Cli­mate re­al­ity check: Global car­bon pol­lu­tion up in 2018

Millennium Post - - Mp World -

WASH­ING­TON: Af­ter sev­eral years of lit­tle growth, global emis­sions of heat­trap­ping car­bon diox­ide ex­pe­ri­enced their largest jump in seven years, dis­cour­ag­ing sci­en­tists.

World car­bon diox­ide emis­sions are es­ti­mated to have risen 2.7 per­cent from 2017 to 2018, ac­cord­ing to three stud­ies re­leased Wed­nes­day from the Global Car­bon Project , an in­ter­na­tional sci­en­tific col­lab­o­ra­tion of aca­demics, gov­ern­ments and in­dus­try that tracks green­house gas emis­sions. The cal­cu­la­tions, an­nounced dur­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions to put the 2015 Paris cli­mate ac­cord into ef­fect, puts some of the land­mark agree­ment’s goals nearly out of reach, sci­en­tists said.

“This is ter­ri­ble news,” said An­drew Jones, co-di­rec­tor of Cli­mate In­ter­ac­tive, which mod­els green­house gas emis­sions and tem­per­a­tures but was not part of the re­search. “Every year that we de­lay se­ri­ous cli­mate ac­tion, the Paris goals be­come more dif­fi­cult to meet.” The stud­ies con­cluded that this year the world would spew 40.9 bil­lion tons (37.1 bil­lion met­ric tons) of car­bon diox­ide, up from 39.8 bil­lion tons (36.2 bil­lion met­ric tons) last year. The mar­gin of er­ror is about one per­cent­age point on ei­ther side.

The Global Car­bon Project uses gov­ern­ment and in­dus­try re­ports to come up with fi­nal emis­sion fig­ures for 2017 and pro­jec­tions for 2018 based on the four big­gest pol­luters: China, the United States, In­dia and the Euro­pean Union.

The U.S., which had been steadily de­creas­ing its car­bon pol­lu­tion, showed a sig­nif­i­cant rise in emis­sions up 2.5 per­cent for the first time since 2013. China, the globe’s big­gest car­bon emit­ter, saw its largest in­crease since 2011: 4.6 per­cent.

Study lead au­thor Corinne Le Quere, a cli­mate change re­searcher at the Uni­ver­sity of East An­glia in Eng­land, said the in­crease is a sur­pris­ing “re­al­ity check” af­ter a few years of smaller emis­sion in­creases. But she also doesn’t think the world will re­turn to the even larger in­creases seen from 2003 to 2008. She be­lieves un­usual fac­tors are at play this year. For the U.S., it was a com­bi­na­tion of a hot sum­mer and cold win­ter that re­quired more elec­tric­ity use for heat­ing and cool­ing. For China, it was an eco­nomic stim­u­lus that pushed coal- pow­ered man­u­fac­tur­ing, Le Quere said.

John Reilly, co-di­rec­tor of MIT’S Joint Pro­gram on the Science and Pol­icy of Global Change, said the re­sults aren’t too sur­pris­ing be­cause fos­sil fu­els still ac­count for 81 per­cent of the world’s en­ergy use. The burn­ing of coal, oil and gas re­lease car­bon diox­ide, which warms the Earth . Reilly, who wasn’t part of the study, praised it as im­pres­sive.

Global Car­bon Project chair­man Rob Jackson, a Stan­ford Uni­ver­sity cli­mate sci­en­tist, said he was dis­cour­aged. The Paris ac­cord set two goals. The long-held goal would limit global warm­ing to no more than 1.8 de­grees (1 de­gree Cel­sius) from now, with a more am­bi­tious goal of lim­it­ing warm­ing to 0.9 de­grees (0.5 de­grees Cel­sius) from now.

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