CO2 emissions up 2.7%, world ‘off course’ to curb warming: study

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PARIS, Dec 6, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – Global emissions of carbon dioxide mainly
from fossil fuel burning will rise 2.7 percent in 2018, scientists said
Wednesday, signalling a world “completely off course” in the fight against
climate change.

Last year, CO2 pollution increased by 1.6 percent 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.

“It is not enough to support renewables,” she added. “Efforts to
decarbonise need to be expanded throughout the economy.”

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 (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), 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.

– Coal use in China –

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, research
director at the Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research
in Oslo.

“While there has been positive progress on clean energy and electric
vehicles, this is currently too small to impact the onward march of fossil
fuels.”

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has said that CO2
emissions must drop 50 percent by 2030 — and reach “net zero”, with no
additional leakage into the atmosphere — by 2050 if the rise in Earth’s
temperature is to be checked at the safer limit of 1.5C.

The uncertainty range for the 2.7 percent increase is 1.8 to 3.7 percent.

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 40 percent 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 27 percent of the global total, and will
likely show growth of 4.7 percent in 2018.

– Smell the coffee –

Coal is likely to dominate the Chinese energy system for decades, even if
the skyrocketing growth of the mid-2000s is unlikely to return, the
researchers said.

The United States will account for 15 percent of CO2 pollution in 2018, an
increase of about 2.5 percent. Most of that growth can be traced to an
exceptionally hot summer and cold winter. Despite attempts by Donald Trump to
revive a moribund domestic coal industry, US emissions are expected to resume
their downward trend in 2019 as cheap gas, wind and solar power continue to
displace coal.

India’s emissions, seven percent of the total, continued their upward
spiral, increasing more than six percent, 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.

Some scientists expressed frustration with the pace of change.

“Set against a background of collective delusions, partial accounting and
just plain lies, emissions will continue to rise,” said Kevin Anderson, a
professor of energy and climate change at the University of Manchester.

“It’s time to grow up and smell the coffee.”

Mohamed Adow, international climate lead for Christian Aid, said poor
people in developing countries most exposed to climate hazards simply cannot
wait.

“If this is the most important issue of our time, as leaders repeatedly
say, then why aren’t they acting accordingly — and showing up for the
climate talks?”, he said.

Nearly 200 nations are huddled at UN climate talks in Katowice, Poland
until December 14.

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