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Global CO2 pollution set to make sharp rise this year

Updated December 06, 2018


Scientists say growth in global CO2 emissions puts the goals set out in the Paris Agreement in jeopardy. — File photo
Scientists say growth in global CO2 emissions puts the goals set out in the Paris Agreement in jeopardy. — File photo

PARIS: Global emissions of carbon dioxide mainly from fossil fuel burning will rise 2.7pc in 2018, scientists said on Wednesday, signalling a world “completely off course” in the fight against climate change.

Last year, CO2 pollution increased by 1.6pc after a three-year hiatus that raised hopes manmade greenhouse gas emissions had finally peaked despite an expanding world economy.

“This growth in global CO2 emissions puts the goals set out in the Paris Agreement in jeopardy,” lead author Corinne Le Quere, director of the Tyndall Centre of Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia, said in a statement.

The findings, co-authored by a team of nearly 80 scientists, were published in the journal Open Access Earth System Science Data.

Rapid deployment of solar and wind power, along with gains in energy efficiency, have been outpaced by growth in demand for freight, personal transport, shipping, and aviation, the research showed.

The 2015 Paris climate treaty calls for capping global warming at “well below” two degrees Celsius, a goal that scientists say could soon slip out of our grasp if planet-warming continues to climb.

Even a 2C ceiling above pre-industrial levels may not be enough to avoid catastrophic impacts, the UN’s climate science panel concluded in a landmark report in October. A single degree of warming to date has seen a rise in deadly heatwaves, droughts, floods, and superstorms made worse by rising seas.

“Emissions will continue to rise, rhetoric is increasing but ambition is not — we are completely off course,” said co-author Glen Peters.

Fluctuations in global emissions over the last five or six years have tracked changes in coal consumption, the study revealed.

In particular, “the trends have a lot to do with the ups and downs of coal use in China,” Le Quere told journalists in Paris.

Globally, coal-fired power accounts for 40pc of CO2 emissions, and more than two-fifths of the world’s electricity.

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

China’s emissions accounted for 27pc of the global total, and will likely show growth of 4.7pc in 2018.

The United States will account for 15pc of CO2 pollution in 2018, an increase of about 2.5pc.

Most of that growth can be traced to an exceptionally hot summer and cold winter.

India’s emissions, seven per cent of the total, continued their upward spiral, increasing more than six per cent, with growth across all three major fossil fuels.

The European Union is set to see a small decline in 2018, and will account for about a tenth of the total.

Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2018