- The carbon dioxide emissions that drive global warming, flat since 2014, are set to rise two percent this year, dashing hopes they had peaked, scientists reported at UN climate talks today. "This is very disappointing," said Corinne Le Quere, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia and lead author of a major study detailing the findings. "With global CO2 emissions from human activities estimated at 41 billion tonnes for 2017, time is running out on our ability to keep warming below two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), let alone 1.5 C." The 196-nation Paris Agreement, adopted in 2015, calls for capping global warming at 2 C 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 1.5 C. Earth is overheating due to the burning of oil, gas and especially coal to power the global economy.
Deforestation also plays a critical role. "The news that emissions are rising after a three-year hiatus is a giant leap backward for humankind," said Amy Luers, a climate policy advisor to Barack Obama and executive director of Future Earth, which co-sponsored the research. This year's climate summit is presided by Fiji, one of dozens of small island nations whose very existence is threatened by rising seas engorged by warmer water and melt- off from ice sheets on Greenland and Antarctica. Thousands of diplomats in Bonn are negotiating the "rulebook" for the Paris pact, which goes into effect in 2020. To stay below the 2 C threshold, greenhouse gas emissions should peak and begin to curve downward by 2020, earlier research has shown. Stalled CO2 emissions from 2014 through 2016 -- due to better energy efficiency, a boom in renewables, and reduced coal use in China -- raised expectations that the world had turned the corner. Those hopes were premature. "As each year ticks by, the chances of avoiding 2 C of warming continue to diminish," said co-author Glen Peters, research director at Center for International Climate Research in Oslo, Norway. "Given that 2 C is extremely unlikely based on current progress, then 1.5 C is a distant dream," he told AFP. Emissions from India -- the world's fourth largest emitter after the United States and the European Union -- are projected to grow by two percent, down from a 6.7-per cent increase the year before.
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