Carbon dioxide emissions are set to rise this year after a three-year pause, scientists said at UN climate talks on Monday, warning that “time is running out”, even as White House officials used the occasion to champion the fossil fuels that drive global warming.
CO2 emissions, flat since 2014, were forecast to rise two per cent in 2017, dashing hopes they had peaked, scientists reported at 12-day negotiations in the German city of Bonn ending on Friday.
“The news that emissions are rising after a three-year hiatus is a giant leap backward for humankind,” said Amy Luers, a climate policy adviser to Barack Obama and executive director of Future Earth, which co-sponsored the research.
Global CO2 emissions for 2017 were estimated at a record 41 billion tonnes.
“Time is running out on our ability to keep warming below 2 degrees Celsius, let alone 1.5C,” said lead author Corinne Le Quere, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia.
The 196-nation Paris Agreement, adopted in 2015, calls for capping global warming at 2C below pre-industrial levels.
With the planet out of kilter after only one degree of warming – enough to amplify deadly heatwaves, droughts, and superstorms – the treaty also vows to explore the feasibility of holding the line at 1.5C.
“As each year ticks by, the chances of avoiding 2C of warming continue to diminish,” said co-author Glen Peters, research director at Centre for International Climate Research in Oslo, Norway.
“Given that 2C is extremely unlikely based on current progress, then 1.5C is a distant dream,” he said.
The study identified China as the single largest cause of resurgent fossil fuel emissions in 2017, with the country’s coal, oil and natural gas use up 3, 5 and 12 per cent, respectively.
Earth is overheating due to the burning of oil, gas and especially coal to power the global economy.
That did not discourage US officials from the administration of President Donald Trump from making a case at the UN negotiations for “The Role of Cleaner and More Efficient Fossil Fuels and Nuclear Power in Climate Mitigation.”