Greenhouse gas emissions from both China as well as the US declined in the year 2015, but that from India grew by more than five per cent compared to the previous year, according to a new study. The decreases in China and the US, world’s two biggest emitters, ensured that 2015 was the third year in a row that global emissions remained more or less flat, at around 36.4 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, the Global Carbon Project said in its annual analysis of carbon emissions.
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However, this did not mean that global emissions had peaked. India, the third biggest emitter in the world, was likely to continue with about 5-6 per cent growth in its emissions over the next few years, and could be the main driver for emissions increase at the global level, the study said.
“Despite positive progress in Chinese, US and EU emissions, there are increasing concerns with emissions growth in India and other developing countries… While we think it is unlikely that India’s emissions will ever reach China’s current levels, India could certainly take over from China in driving global emissions growth in the next decade,” said Robbie Andrew, a senior researcher at Oslo-based Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research (CICERO) who co-authored the study.
China’s emissions in 2015 were 0.7 per cent less than in 2014, the study said. It was likely to decline by another 0.5 per cent in 2016. The declines are being attributed to a slowdown in China’s coal consumption since 2012. China accounts of almost 30 per cent of global emissions. It has said it will not allow its emissions to increase after 2030.
US emissions, which have been on a downward path for almost a decade, came down by 2.5 per cent in 2015 as compared to previous year and are tipped to go further down by 1.7 per cent in 2016, the study said. The European Union, which has been on a sharper downward curve, saw its emissions rise in 2015 by 1.4 per cent compared to previous year.
Global emissions had been growing at almost three per cent per year in the first decade of this century, thanks to the massive growth in China, but slowed down in the past few years with countries implementing low-carbon strategies. Between 2014 and 2015, the increase was about 0.01 per cent, according to the study.
“It is great news that global carbon dioxide emissions have been flat in the past three years, but it is far too early to proclaim that we have reached a peak,” said Glen Peters, who too works at CICERO and is co-author of the study.
The lack of growth of emissions, however, has not resulted in a halt in the increase of carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere, that has continued to rise in 2015 as well as 2016. The study said this was because of the strong El Nino event that happened during this time. CO2 concentrations crossed the 400 parts per million mark earlier this year.
“With temperatures soaring in 2015 and 2016, less carbon dioxide was absorbed by trees because of hot and dry conditions, and together with continued high CO2 emissions, led to a record rise in atmospheric CO2 concentrations,” said Corinne Le Quere of the Tyndall Centre at the University of East Anglia, who led the data analysis for the study.