Global carbon dioxide emissions reach record high

Worldwide emissions of carbon dioxide — the gas most responsible for global warming — are on the rise again in 2017 after three years of little-to-no growth.

Smoke billows from a large steel plant as a Chinese labourer works at an unauthorized steel factory, foreground, on Nov. 4, 2016, in Inner Mongolia, China.(Photo: Kevin Frayer, Getty Images)

Worldwide emissions of carbon dioxide — the greenhouse gas most responsible for global warming — are on the rise again in 2017 after three years of little-to-no growth, a study released Monday found.

Global emissions from all human activities will reach an all-time record 45 billion tons in 2017, following a projected 2% rise in burning fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal, the study revealed.

The report by the Global Carbon Project team dashed hopes that emissions had peaked. “We hoped that we had turned the corner … We haven’t,” said study co-author Rob Jackson of Stanford University.

The report was released at the United Nations’ annual climate change conference in Bonn, Germany.

“Global CO2 emissions appear to be going up strongly once again,” said lead researcher Corinne Le Quéré of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.

“This is very disappointing,” she added. “Time is running out” to keep warming well below 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). The Paris Climate Agreement, which every nation except the U.S. promised to sign, set the 2-degree target.

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China is the main cause of the renewed growth in emissions, the study found, with a projected growth of 3.5%, primarily due to the increased burning of coal.

“The use of coal, the main fuel source in China, may rise by 3% due to stronger growth in industrial production and lower hydro-power generation due to less rainfall,” said Glen Peters of the Center for International Climate Research in Oslo, Norway.  

Global levels of carbon emissions have skyrocketed in recent decades. Sixty years ago, the world spewed only 9.2 billion tons per year.

“It’s a bit staggering,” said co-author Ralph Keeling, a Scripps Institution of Oceanography scientist, noting that levels have increased fourfold since he was born in the 1950s. “We race headlong into the unknown.”

On average, about 2.57 million pounds of carbon dioxide is emitted into the air every second.

The top five carbon polluting countries are China, the United States, India, Russia and Japan. Europe, taken as a whole, would rank third.

The research was published simultaneously in the journals Nature Climate Change, Earth System Science Data Discussions and Environmental Research Letters.

Contributing: Associated Press

Carbon emissions rose in 2017 after a three-year hiatus. (Photo: University of East Anglia)

 

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