Global CO2 emissions are rising again

Global emissions of the greenhouse gas could climb to 41 billion tonnes

Global CO2 emissions are increasing again. © Tibu / thinkstock
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Bad news about the Climate Summit: Global CO2 emissions are likely to rise this year. As current estimates show, humanity is expected to blow around 41 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the earth's atmosphere in 2017. After three years of stagnation, this would be the first increase in annual CO2 emissions by around two percent. One of the reasons for this regression is the world's largest producer of greenhouse gases, China.

In the climate agreement of Paris, the states agreed on a climate protection target of a maximum of two degrees warming. How this is to be achieved in detail is currently being discussed at the World Climate Summit in Bonn. But it is already clear that only if the global greenhouse gas emissions are reduced significantly and quickly, then the climate protection targets can still be met.

So far, only a small amount of it has been felt. After all, however, the greenhouse gas balances of the past few years were at least partially optimistic. Because instead of rising further, global carbon dioxide emissions stagnated last - and for the third year in a row was around 35 billion tons.

End of stagnation

But this is now apparently closing: According to a new estimate, it goes this year with the greenhouse gas emissions back up. This is the result of an international research team that regularly monitors the development of global CO2 emissions for the "Global Carbon Project". For their forecasts, the scientists use statistics from the individual states.

The data for this year do not bode well. As a result, it is estimated that carbon dioxide emissions in 2017 will increase by two percent compared to the previous year: to around 41 billion tons. "That's very disappointing, " says Corinne Le Quéré of the University of East Anglia in Norwich. "Time is thus becoming increasingly scarce, to limit global warming to two, let alone 1.5 degrees Celsius." Display

Main cause China

China is the country's biggest greenhouse gas producer, responsible for 28 percent of global CO2 emissions, according to researchers. In the past two years, the People's Republic has reported a decline in its output. This year, however, emissions will rise by as much as 3.5 percent, as suggested by the analysis of the current figures.

The reason for this is the increasing combustion of coal, oil and gas, which among other things leads the team back to the recently strengthened economic growth in the country. In addition, lack of precipitation has meanwhile caused the Chinese hydropower plants to produce less electricity.

Minimal decline in US and EU

India's CO2 emissions will also grow again this year - but only by two percent. This is a positive development for the climate. Over the past decade, emissions in the country have risen by an annual average of six percent. According to the researchers, government intervention in the economy could be responsible for the decline.

The United States is also surprisingly good in comparison to other countries: although President Trump has ended the climate agreement, the United States is reducing its emissions by 0.4 percent in 2017. Compared to the past decade, when an average of minus 1.2 percent per year was reached, the decline is much smaller.

The greenhouse gas savings in the European Union should be similar to a minimum. The forecast here expects a decline of 0.2 percent. Part of the problem is that Germany is not progressing with its climate protection projects.

Just an exit?

Although the current estimates are associated with some uncertainties. For example, the increase predicted by the scientists could be somewhere between 0.8 and 3 percent instead of two. But the fact is: humanity will blow enormous amounts of carbon dioxide into the earth's atmosphere this year and will not be able to get any closer to the goals agreed in the Paris Climate Agreement.

"We do not know whether the increase in emissions in 2017 is an outlier or whether we are dealing with changes that will cause an upswing in the coming years ", conclude the researchers. (Earth System Science Data Discussions, 2017; doi: 10.5194 / essdd-2017-123)

(Global Carbon Project, 14.11.2017 - DAL)