Driven by China’s greater use of coal, global emissions of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels are projected to rise again in 2017 after a three year hiatus. The alarming projection for 2017 was revealed in a new report by the Global Carbon Project and published simultaneously in the journals Nature Climate Change, Earth System Science Data Discussions and Environmental Research Letters.
Global emissions from all human activities will reach 41 billion tonnes in 2017, following a projected two per cent rise in burning fossil fuels, according to the report. The figures point to China as the main cause of the renewed growth in fossil emissions – with a projected growth of 3.5 per cent.
CO2 emissions are expected to decline by 0.4 per cent in the US and 0.2 per cent in the EU, smaller declines than during the previous decade, the report said. Increases in coal use in China and the US are expected this year, reversing their decreases since 2013, it added.
“It is probably too early to say that emissions are on the rise again, but our estimate for 2016 and 2017 clearly does not show any sign of peak and decline as needed to stabilise the climate,” said study co-author Pierre Friedlingstein, Professor at University of Exeter in Britain.
It was previously hoped that emissions might soon reach their peak after three stable years, so the new projection for 2017 is an unwelcome message for policy makers and delegates at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 23) in Bonn, taking place this week.