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Burning of fossil fuels hits record high in 2017 - report

13 November 2017

The 12th annual Global Carbon Budget report published on November 13, produced by 76 of the world’s leading emissions experts from 57 research institutions, estimates that global carbon emissions from fossil fuels will have risen by 2% by the end of 2017. The new analysis estimates that 37bn tonnes of CO2 will be emitted from burning fossil fuels, the highest total ever.

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 “Global CO2 emissions appear to be going up strongly once again after a three-year stable period. This is very disappointing,” said Prof Corinne Le Quéré, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the UK’s University of East Anglia and who led the new research. “The urgency for reducing emissions means they should really be already decreasing now.”

“There was a big push to sign the Paris agreement on climate change but there is a feeling that not very much has happened since, a bit of slackening,” she said. “What happens after 2017 is very open and depends on how much effort countries are going to make. It is time to take really seriously the implementation of the Paris agreement.” She said the hurricanes and floods seen in 2017 were “a window into the future”.

The main reason for the rise is an expected 3.5% increase in emissions in China, the world’s biggest polluter, where low rains have reduced low-carbon hydroelectric output and industrial activity has increased. India’s rise in emissions was modest compared to previous years at 2%, while the US and EU are both on track for small falls of 0.4% and 0.2% respectively.

2017 is likely to be the hottest year ever recorded in which there was no El Niño event, a natural global cycle that temporarily nudges up global temperature. The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere also saw a record jump in 2016, and other greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide from agriculture and industry are also rising.

Key findings:
*  In 2017, CO2 emissions from fossil fuels and industry are projected to grow by 2% (0.8% to 3%). This follows three years of nearly no growth (2014-2016). (GDP to rise 3.6% according to IMF figures).
*  Global CO2 emissions from all human activities are set to reach 41 billion tonnes (41 Gt CO2) by the end of 2017. Meanwhile emissions from fossil fuels are set to reach 37 Gt CO2 – a record high.
*  China’s emissions are projected to grow by 3.5% (0.7% to 5.4%), driven by a rise in coal consumption (GDP up 6.8%).
*  India’s emissions are projected to grow by just 2 % (0.2% to 3.8%) – down from over 6% per year during the last decade (GDP up 6.7%).
*  US emissions are projected to decline by -0.4%(-2.7% to +1.9%), with coal consumption projected to rise slightly (GDP up 2.2%).
*  EU emissions are tentatively projected to decline -0.2% (-2% to +1.6%), a smaller decline than the previous decade (GDP up 2.3%).
*  CO2 emissions decreased in the presence of growing economic activity in 22 countries representing 20 per cent of global emissions.
*  Renewable energy has increased rapidly at 14% per year over the last five years – albeit from a very low base.
*  Atmospheric CO2 concentration reached 403 parts per million in 2016, and is expected to increase by 2.5 ppm in 2017.
 


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