Reporter focuses on environmental and public health issues
Brady Dennis Reporter focuses on environmental and public health issues Chris Mooney Reports covering climate change, energy and the environment.…
Global carbon dioxide emissions have reached the highest levels of record, researchers projected Wednesday, in the latest evidence of the gap between international climate change mitigation targets and what countries actually do.
Between 2014 and 2016, emissions were largely flat, leading to hope that the world began turning a corner. These hopes have been dashed. In 2017 global emissions increased by 1.6 percent. The increase in 2018 is estimated to be 2.7 percent.
The expected increase, which would result in fossil fuels and industrial emissions reaching a record high 37.1 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, driven by almost 5 percent emission increase in China and more than 6 percent in India, researchers are estimated to grow together with growth in many other nations all over the world. Emissions from the United States increased by 2.5 percent, while emissions from the European Union decreased by almost 1 percent.
When nations gathered for climate negotiations in Poland, the announcement of Wednesday’s report was unequivocal: in terms of promises to begin to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that burn climate change, the world is still well-balanced.
“We are in trouble. We are in deep trouble with climate change,” said UN Secretary General António Guterres this week at the opening of the 24th UN UN Climate Conference where countries will struggle with the ambitious goals they need to face to significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the coming years.
“It is difficult to exaggerate the urgency of our situation,” he added. “Although we witness devastating climate impact that causes chaos all over the world, we still do not do enough or move fast enough to prevent irreversible and catastrophic climate disturbances. “
Guterres did not comment specifically on Wednesday’s findings released in a trio of scientific articles by researchers with the Global Carbon Project. But his words came in the midst of a lot of gryma news in the fall where scientists have warned that climate impact is no longer far away and hypothetical, and that the effects of global warming will only intensify in the absence of aggressive international action. 19659012] In October, a top UN-supported scientific panel found that nations for almost a decade had to take “” unprecedented actions and reduce emissions by half of 2030 to prevent the worst consequences of climate change. The panel’s report found “no documented historical precedent” for the rapid changes in community infrastructure that would be needed to keep heat to just 1.5 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels.
The day after Thanksgiving, the trumpet administration released an almost 1700-sided report written by hundreds of researchers who find that climate change is already causing increasing damage to the United States. It was followed soon by another report describing the growing gap between commitments at previous UN conferences and what is needed to control the planet by its unfortunate road.
In combination with today’s results, the drumming of scary news has become a major pallet of the international climate negotiations in Poland that began this week and is scheduled to run by December 14th.
Negotiators face the difficult task of reaching the gap between the promises made in Paris 2015 and what is needed to control hazardous heat values - a first step, we hope for more aggressive climate measures that begin in 2020. Leaders at the conference are trying to also set up a process for how countries measure and report their greenhouse gas emissions to the rest of the world in the coming years.
But while most of the world is still firmly involved in the management of climate change, many countries are not in line to meet their relatively modest Paris ceilings. The trumpet administration has continued to roll over environmental rules and insists it will leave the Paris 2020 agreement. Brazil, which has struggled to deforestate deforestation, chose a leader in Jair Bolsonaro, who promised to redeem Amazon’s protection.
The biggest emission story in 2018, however, appears to be China, the world’s single largest releasing country, which estimates its production of planetary heating gases by almost half a billion tonnes. (USA is the world’s second largest emitter).
The country’s sudden, significant increase in carbon dioxide emissions could be linked to a major slowdown in the economy, environmental analysts said.
“Under pressure of the current economic downturn, some local governments may have uncovered the monitoring of air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions,” said Yang Fuqiang, Energy Advisor to the Natural Resources Council, an American environmental organization.
China’s Highest Planning Agency said Wednesday that three areas – Liaoning in the northeast Rust Belt and the major coal-producing regions of Ningxia and Xinjiang in the northwest – had failed to meet their goals of reducing energy consumption and improving efficiency last year.
But Yang said that these areas were not representative of the whole country, and that China in generally, it is on the right track. “There is still far ahead in terms of pollution control and emission reduction, but we expect to see more ambitions in government plans and actions,” he said.
Such changes – in all major emissions nations – must hurry quickly.
Researchers have said that annual CO2 emissions must slow down almost half past 2030 if the world wants to meet the strictest and safest climate target. It would either keep the earth’s heating below 1.5 degrees Celsius – when it is already at 1 degrees – or just short “exceeding” that temperature.
But the emissions are far too high to limit the heating to such an extent. And instead of falling dramatically, they still rise.
Wednesday’s research makes clear the scary mathematics behind the basic shift that researchers say is required. While some nations continue to increase their emissions and some shrink them, overall, there are still more extensions than subtractions.
“We do not see drops in rich countries that exceed the increases in other parts of the world,” said Rob Jackson, a researcher at Stanford University, contributing to research as part of the Global Carbon Project.
The problem of reducing emissions is that it leads to difficult choices in the real world. A growing global economy inevitably matches more demand for energy. And different countries grow their emissions – or fail to shrink them – for various reasons.
“India supplies electricity and energy to hundreds of millions of people who do not yet have it,” said Jackson. “It is very different than in China, where they raise coal consumption again, partly because their economic growth has slowed.” The green lights have carbon-based projects that have remained. “
The continued growth of global emissions happens, researchers say, even if renewable energy is growing. It’s just that they are still too small as energy sources.
“Sun and wind are good, they are pretty good,” says Glen Peters, head of the Center for International Climate Research in Oslo and another of Global Carbon Project authors. “But in China and India, sun and wind just fill in new demand. You can say if you did not have sun or wind, the emissions may be higher. But sun and wind are nowhere near enough to replace fossil fuels.”
The figures provided by researchers are estimates based on available data from the energy and cement industry during the first nine months of the year, and forecasts based on economic trends and the amount of carbon in different countries are meant to be emitted to use energy . The estimated growth can change a bit, said Jackson – it is possible that the final amount may be between an increase of 1.8 percent and 3.7 percent. But in some way, there is no doubt that 2018 met a new record high for global emissions.
In the United States, emissions in 2018 are estimated to have risen 2.5 percent, partly driven by a very hot summer that led to high-air conditioning use and a very cold winter in the northeast, but also through continued use of low-gas oil and bigger cars. US emissions had been declining, as hydrocarbons were replaced by natural gas plants and renewable energy, but this momentum stopped this year, at least temporarily. In Europe, cars have also been an important driving force for slower emission reductions.
In China, coal accounts for about 60 percent of China’s total energy consumption, but the government hopes to lower it to 10 percent by 2050.
Due to increased investments in green energy, China’s coal intensity or the amount of carbon dioxide emissions per GDP unit decreased by 46 percent in 2017 from the 2005 level, the Ecological and Environment Ministry reported earlier in the week. It had been expected that 2020 would reach the target reduction by 40-45 percent.
“With these goals, a very solid foundation has been made to meet the goal of stopping the increase of carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and even implementing it earlier than planned,” said Xie Zhenhua, China’s Special Representative for Climate Change, to the state Xinhua News Agency for the meeting in Poland.
China will remain steady and active to deal with climate change and implement the Paris agreement, Xie said.
But officials and analysts point out that the United States does not participate in the fight against global warming. “We would also love to see the United States embrace its responsibility by returning to the climate agreement in Paris,” said Yang in the NRDC.
Despite the overwhelming challenges, Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, still holds high hopes for the talks in Poland.
“I’m an optimist because of human nature,” said Espinosa in an interview. She suspects that the spread of malicious climate news could have been a kind of decoupling point, where societies begin to demand aggressive actions from their leaders to ward off the most catastrophic effects of climate change.
“I think we have reached the limit,” she said. “When we face the border, I think we need to come up with something more creative, more ambitious, stronger and bold.”
Lyric Li contributed to this story from Beijing.