Indian and Chinese coal consumption driving carbon emissions to record high


Global carbon dioxide emissions are set to rise almost 3% this year due to continued fossil fuel use, scientists said on Wednesday, dashing hopes that an increase in 2017 was temporary after two years of slowdown.

Kristie Ebi, professor of global health at the University of Washington, said the world now had scientific evidence that "people today are suffering and dying from climate change". He said the recent uptick in global growth meant major economies are relying on readily available coal, oil and gas and that the rapid growth in renewables, from a low base, still is not enough to meet demand growth for energy.

The report noted that even though China's emissions have grown an estimated 4.7 percent in 2018, its energy from renewables is growing by 25 percent per year.

"The continued rise in global emissions is of utmost concern".

CO2 emissions have now risen for a second year, after three years of little-to-no growth from 2014 to 2016.

United States emissions are seen rising around 2.5% this year, after falling 1.2% a year since 2007.

The uncertainty range for the 2.7 per cent increase is 1.8 to 3.7 per cent. The EU as a whole region of countries ranks third.

Another year of Carbon dioxide growth - to a record 37.1 billion tonnes this year - makes the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement to limit warming to below 2 deg C or even 1.5 deg C, that much harder to achieve.

The rapid growth in low carbon technologies are not yet sufficient to cause global emissions to peak, let alone drive emissions aggressively down as required by the Paris agreement (global warming "well below two degrees Celsius").

"This year we have seen how climate change can already amplify the impacts of heatwaves worldwide".

What is driving the rise?

Global fossil Carbon dioxide emissions (fossil fuels, industry and cement) grew at over three per cent per year in the 2000s, but growth has slowed since 2010, and from 2014 to 2016 emissions remained relatively flat with only a slight increase.

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Due to strong economic growth and continued use of coal.

Oil use is growing strongly in most regions, with a rise in emissions from cars and lorries, including in the U.S. and Europe.

Oil and gas use have grown nearly unabated over the last decade.

Prof Le Quéré said: "The growing global demand for energy is outpacing decarbonisation for now". For the Pacific Island countries, urgent action to address climate change - including the outcome of COP24 this week - is crucial to the health of their people and their very existence.

"While renewables are rising fast, it is not yet enough to reverse global emissions trends".

"This is awful news", said Andrew Jones, co-director of Climate Interactive, which models greenhouse gas emissions and temperatures but was not part of the research. But she also doesn't think the world will return to the even larger increases seen from 2003 to 2008.

CO2 emissions from all human activities, including fossil fuels, industry and land-use change, will reach around 41.5 billion tons, the report said. This is 45 per cent above pre-industrial levels.

CO2 is the main greenhouse gas that is heating up the atmosphere and oceans, fuelling more extreme weather and rising sea levels. Aruba, Barbados, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, Malta, the Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Kingdom, the USA, and Uzbekistan have all decreased their emissions over the past decade (2008-2017). This is changing rapidly.

The Paris accord set two goals. Renewable energy technology costs have dropped by 80 per cent in a decade, and today, over half of all new energy generation capacity is renewable. The same is true of decarbonizing the economy. "The health burden of polluting energy sources is now so high, that moving to cleaner and more sustainable choices for energy supply, transport and food systems effectively pays for itself", says Dr Maria Neira, WHO Director of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health. For China, it was an economic stimulus that pushed coal-powered manufacturing, Le Quere said. The burning of coal, oil and gas release carbon dioxide, which warms the Earth.

European Union emissions account for 10 per cent of global emissions and a small decline of around -0.7 per cent is projected, well below the declines of?2 per cent per year in the decade up to 2014. The US, for instance, has been shutting down coal-fired plants and switching to gas and renewables. Oil is used mainly to fuel personal transport, freight, aviation and shipping, and to produce petrochemicals.

Chinese emissions, accounting for 27 per cent of global emissions, look set to grow about 4.7 per cent this year, reaching a new all-time high.

Among the ten biggest emitters in 2018, five are developed countries, namely the United States, Japan, Germany, South Korea and Canada, according to the UEA report.