CLIMATE CHANGE: Warming mission ‘off course’: study

NATIONAL TRENDS::The US is predicted to account for 15% of global, human-produced carbon dioxide emissions this year, with India 7% and the EU 10%

AFP, PARIS

Fri, Dec 07, 2018 - Page 5

Global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) mainly from burning fossil fuels are to rise 2.7 percent this year, scientists said on Wednesday, signaling a world “completely off course” in its bid to limit climate change.

Last year, carbon dioxide increased by 1.6 percent after a three-year hiatus that raised hopes that human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases had peaked, despite an expanding world economy.

“This growth in global CO2 emissions puts the goals set out in the Paris Agreement in jeopardy,” lead author Corinne le Quere, director of the Tyndall Centre of Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia, said in a statement.

“It is not enough to support renewables,” she said. “Efforts to decarbonize need to be expanded throughout the economy.”

The findings, coauthored by a team of nearly 80 scientists, were published in the journal Open Access Earth System Science Data.

Rapid deployment of solar and wind power, along with gains in energy efficiency, have been outpaced by growth in demand for freight, personal transport, shipping, and aviation, the research showed.

The 2015 Paris climate treaty calls for capping global warming at “well below” 2°C, a goal that scientists say could soon slip out of reach if warming increases.

Even a 2°C ceiling above pre-industrial levels might not be enough to avoid catastrophic effects, the UN’s climate science panel said in a report in October.

“Emissions will continue to rise, rhetoric is increasing, but ambition is not — we are completely off course,” said coauthor Glen Peters, research director at the Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research in Oslo.

“While there has been positive progress on clean energy and electric vehicles, this is currently too small to impact the onward march of fossil fuels,” Peters said.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said that carbon dioxide emissions must drop 50 percent by 2030 — and reach “net zero,” with no additional leakage into the atmosphere — by 2050 for the predicted rise in Earth’s temperature to be checked at the lower limit of 1.5°C.

The uncertainty range for a 2.7 percent increase is 1.8 to 3.7 percent.

Fluctuations in global emissions over the past five or six years have tracked changes in coal consumption, the study said.

In particular, “the trends have a lot to do with the ups and downs of coal use in China,” Le Quere told reporters in Paris.

Globally, coal-fired power accounts for 40 percent of carbon dioxide emissions and more than two-fifths of the world’s electricity.

Oil and gas use have grown almost unabated over the past decade. China’s emissions accounted for 27 percent of the global total, and will likely show growth of 4.7 percent this year.

Coal is likely to dominate the Chinese energy system for decades, even if the skyrocketing growth in its economy of the mid-2000s is unlikely to return, the researchers said.

The US is predicted to account for 15 percent of carbon dioxide emissions this year, an increase of about 2.5 percent, they said. Most of that growth can be traced to an exceptionally hot summer and cold winter.

US emissions are expected to resume their downward trend next year as cheap gas, wind and solar power continue to displace coal.

India’s emissions, 7 percent of the total, continued their upward trend, increasing more than 6 percent, with growth across all three major fossil fuels.

The EU is expected to see a small decline this year, accounting for about one-tenth of the total.

Some scientists expressed frustration with the pace of change.

“Set against a background of collective delusions, partial accounting and just plain lies, emissions will continue to rise,” said Kevin Anderson, a professor of energy and climate change at the University of Manchester. “It’s time to grow up and smell the coffee.”

Mohamed Adow, international climate lead for Christian Aid, said that poor people in developing countries most exposed to climate hazards simply cannot wait.

“If this is the most important issue of our time, as leaders repeatedly say, then why aren’t they acting accordingly — and showing up for the climate talks?” he asked.

Nearly 200 nations are huddled at UN climate talks in Katowice, Poland until Friday next week.