Global carbon emissions to hit all-time high this year

7th December 2018

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Kate Symonds

Carbon emissions are projected to reach an all-time high in 2018 following two years of sustained growth in fossil fuel use, the Global Carbon Project has revealed.

The researchers forecast global emissions to be 2.7% higher in 2018 than they were last year when growth was at 1.6%, with China, the US and India the biggest emitters.

This will be the second consecutive year of rising emissions after almost no growth between 2014 and 2016, with approximately 3.7.1 billion tonnes of CO2 emitted from burning fossil fuels.

Professor Corinne Le Quéré of the University of East Anglia, which co-produced the research, said the world was far from halving emissions by 2030 and limiting global warming to 1.5˚C.

“Emissions need to peak and rapidly decrease to address climate change,” she continued. “With this year’s growth in emissions, it looks like the peak is not yet in sight.

“Much more needs to be done, because if countries stick to the commitments they have already made, we are on track to see 3°C of global warming.”

The findings show that this year’s rising emission figures are largely due to solid growth in coal use, although this still remains below the historic high recorded in 2013.

The researchers said oil use has grown strongly in most regions, reflecting a rise in emissions from cars and lorries, while growth in gas use has also continued unabated in recent years.

Emissions from deforestation and other human activities on land contributed an additional 5 billion tonnes of CO2 this year, bringing total global emissions to 41.5 billion.

However, the research also shows that deployment of renewable energy worldwide is accelerating exponentially, with electricity generation growing at 15% per year on average over the last decade.

Although this has not been enough to offset the growth in fossil fuel use, Mission 2020 campaign group leader, Christiana Figueres, said this shows that the solutions are “within our grasp”.

“Propelled by the pursuit of clean air, jobs and energy-independence among other benefits, the intrepid, collective efforts of young people, civil society, businesses, investors, cities and states are charting the course to net zero emissions by 2050,” she added.

Image credit: iStock


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