Monday, November 13, 2017

Carbon Emissions Had Leveled Off.  Now They're Rising Again

There are many reasons, but the biggest is that China is burning more coal again.

The biggest projected surge in 2017 emissions is in China, where coal consumption increased, in part due to a long dry spell that reduced hydropower, a new study shows. (Credit: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
For a while it looked as if the world might be turning the corner.

But after a three-year stall in their growth, human-caused carbon-dioxide emissions have not, in fact, peaked, an international team of scientists announced this morning.

In 2017, global emissions of CO2 from fossil fuels and industry will once again rise by 2 percent, the scientists project, to a record 37 billion metric tons.  Those emissions had increased by only a quarter of a percent from 2014 to 2016.  Changes in land use, such as deforestation, will add around 4 billion metric tons of CO2 in 2017, bringing the global emissions total to an estimated 41 billion metric tons.

The resurgence tightens the time constraint on the world's efforts to keep global warming from exceeding 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit)—a cap scientists increasingly believe is important to ward off climate change's most catastrophic effects.

"What's driving, really, the global trend is this pick-up in China," says Corinne Le Quéré of the University of East Anglia, and the lead author of one of several new emissions studies released today.  An unexpected rise in coal-burning in China—due in part to a summer drought that diminished the country’s rivers and its generation of hydropower—was the biggest contributor to the global surge in emissions.

Read more at Carbon Emissions Had Leveled Off.  Now They're Rising Again

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