Global carbon emissions expected to reach all time high in 2017

November 16, 2017 0 Comments

For the first time in three years, global carbon emissions are expected to rise, scientists announced this week at the UN Climate Change Conference in Germany. Emissions due to fossil fuel burning and industrial use are expected to grow 2% this year, mostly because of increase coal burning in China.

For the past three years, global carbon emissions had held steady at 36 billion tons a year. Scientists had hoped emissions had plateaued since there had been global economic growth during that time and no change in emissions. Usually emissions increase when there is global economic growth. This lack of change was due to an increase in renewable energy, more energy efficient equipment, and the fact that China’s economic growth had slowed over that time period.

Unfortunately, the hope that emissions had peaked is gone as China’s emissions alone, which account for 26% of the world’s emissions, are estimated to have increased by 3.5% due to industrial growth this year coupled with a drought that has limited rainfall and their subsequent use of hydro-electric power. During the steady three year period, China had made huge strides to slash their carbon emissions, but their increased use of fossil fuels this year will account for much of the expected 1 billion ton increase in emissions.

Credit: Global Carbon Project

China isn’t the only nation that has seen an increase in fossil fuel usage this year. The rise in natural gas prices has increased the coal demand in the United States and Europe. While the United States had been cutting emissions, on average, by 1.2% each year, it’s only expected to be 0.4% this year. It’s a similar story in Europe, which is only expected to have cut emissions by 0.2%, down from their annual average of 2.2%.

The increase of total carbon emission to 37 billion tons only accounts for emissions from burning fossil fuels and industry use. This doesn’t include the 4 billion tons that will likely be added to due to more deforestation and other changes in land use that have gotten rid of natural carbon storers. This will likely push the total global emissions from this year over 41 billion tons, which would be a new record high.

The news doesn’t get much better looking towards next year, as scientists are currently projecting an increase in 2018 as well. While many nations globally continued to reduce emissions this year, a push towards renewable energy will need to continue going forward. If we don’t continue to make small, meaningful cuts in fossil fuel emissions now, we’ll need to make much larger ones in the next 15-30 years to slow the human caused warming of our planet.

About the Author:

Leave a Reply