Car­bon diox­ide emis­sions soar to record level

USA TODAY US Edition - - NEWS - Doyle Rice

Emis­sions of car­bon diox­ide – the green­house gas most re­spon­si­ble for global warm­ing – reached an all-time high in 2018, sci­en­tists said Wed­nes­day.

Global car­bon diox­ide lev­els in our at­mos­phere “are now higher than they’ve been for mil­lions of years,” said Rob Jackson of the Global Car­bon Project and Stan­ford Uni­ver­sity, one of the study’s co-au­thors.

The emis­sions rose for a se­cond year af­ter lit­tle to no growth from 2014 to 2016. The in­crease in global car­bon emis­sions, the largest jump in seven years, puts the goals from the land­mark Paris Agree­ment on fight­ing cli­mate change in jeop­ardy.

“We thought, per­haps hoped, emis­sions had peaked a few years ago,” Jackson said in a state­ment. “Af­ter two years of re­newed growth, that was wish­ful think­ing.”

The United States, which had been steadily de­creas­ing its car­bon pol­lu­tion, showed a sig­nif­i­cant rise in emis­sions for the first time since 2013.

The burn­ing of fos­sil fu­els such as coal, oil and gas re­leases green­house gases such as car­bon diox­ide and meth­ane into Earth’s at­mos­phere and oceans. Fos­sil fu­els ac­count for 81 per­cent of the world’s en­ergy use.

Ac­cord­ing to the study, global car­bon diox­ide emis­sions from fos­sil fuel sources – about 90 per­cent of all emis­sions from hu­man ac­tiv­i­ties – will reach a record high of more than 37 bil­lion tons in 2018, an in­crease of 2.7 per­cent over emis­sions out­put in 2017.

“Emis­sions need to peak and rapidly de­crease to ad­dress cli­mate change,” said Corinne Le Quere of the Uni­ver­sity of East An­glia. “It looks like the peak is not yet in sight.”

The in­crease was driven by solid growth in coal use for the se­cond year in a row, along with sus­tained growth in oil and gas use. The planet’s five big­gest emit­ters in 2018 are China, the USA, In­dia, Rus­sia and Japan.

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