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Climate reality check: Global carbon pollution up in 2018

AP  |  Washington 

After several years of little growth, global emissions of heat-trapping experienced their largest jump in seven years, discouraging scientists.

World emissions are estimated to have risen 2.7 percent from 2017 to 2018, according to three studies released Wednesday from the Global , an international scientific collaboration of academics, governments and industry that tracks emissions. The calculations, announced during negotiations to put the 2015 climate accord into effect, puts some of the landmark agreement's goals nearly out of reach, scientists said.

"This is terrible news," said Andrew Jones, of Climate Interactive, which models emissions and temperatures but was not part of the research. "Every year that we delay serious climate action, the goals become more difficult to meet." The studies concluded that this year the world would spew 40.9 billion tons (37.1 billion metric tons) of carbon dioxide, up from 39.8 billion tons (36.2 billion metric tons) last year. The margin of error is about one percentage point on either side.

The Global uses government and industry reports to come up with final emission figures for 2017 and projections for 2018 based on the four biggest polluters: China, the United States, and the

The U.S., which had been steadily decreasing its carbon pollution, showed a significant rise in emissions up 2.5 percent for the first time since 2013. China, the globe's biggest carbon emitter, saw its largest increase since 2011: 4.6 percent.

Corinne Le Quere, a researcher at the in England, said the increase is a surprising "reality check" after a few years of smaller emission increases. But she also doesn't think the world will return to the even larger increases seen from 2003 to 2008. She believes unusual factors are at play this year.

For the U.S., it was a combination of a hot summer and cold winter that required more for heating and cooling. For China, it was an economic stimulus that pushed coal-powered manufacturing, Le Quere said.

John Reilly, of on the Science and Policy of Global Change, said the results aren't too surprising because fossil fuels still account for 81 percent of the world's The burning of coal, oil and gas release carbon dioxide, which warms the Earth . Reilly, who wasn't part of the study, praised it as impressive.

Global Rob Jackson, a climate scientist, said he was discouraged.

The accord set two goals. The long-held goal would limit global warming to no more than 1.8 degrees (1 degree Celsius) from now, with a more ambitious goal of limiting warming to 0.9 degrees (0.5 degrees Celsius) from now.

The trend is such that the world would have to be lucky to keep warming to 1.8 degrees, let alone the lower goal, Le Quere said.

increased its emissions to 11.4 billion tons (10.3 billion metric tons), while the U.S. jumped to a shade under 6 billion tons (5.4 metric tons). The spewed 3.9 billion tons (3.5 billion metric tons) and soared to 2.9 billion tons (2.6 billion metric tons). Overall, the world is spewing about 1,300 tons (1,175 metric tons) of into the air every second.

Use of coal the biggest carbon emitter is rising. And while countries are using more renewable fuels and trying to reduce carbon from electricity production, emissions from cars and planes are steadily increasing, Le Quere said.

dioxide emissions have increased 55 percent in the last 20 years, the calculations show. At the same time, Earth has warmed on average about two-thirds of a degree (0.38 degrees Celsius), according to the

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, December 06 2018. 17:25 IST
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