Global emissions of carbon dioxide are reaching the highest levels on record, scientists projected today, in the latest evidence of the chasm between international goals for combating climate change and what countries are doing.
Between 2014 and 2016, emissions remained largely flat, leading to hopes that the world was beginning to turn a corner.
Those hopes appear to have been dashed.
In 2017, global emissions grew 1.6 percent.
The rise in 2018 is projected to be 2.7 percent.
The expected increase, which would bring fossil fuel and industrial emissions to a record high of 37.1 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year, is being driven by a nearly 5 percent growth of emissions in China and more than 6 percent in India, researchers estimated, along with growth in many other nations.
Emissions by the United States grew 2.5 percent, while those of the European Union declined by just under 1 percent.
As nations continue climate talks in Poland, the message of today’s report was unambiguous: When it comes to promises to begin cutting the greenhouse gas emissions that fuel climate change, the world is well off target.
“We are in trouble. We are in deep trouble with climate change,” United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said this week at the opening of the 24th annual U.N. climate conference, where countries will wrestle with the ambitious goals they need to meet to sharply reduce carbon emissions in the coming years.
“It is hard to overstate the urgency of our situation,” he said. “Even as we witness devastating climate impacts causing havoc across the world, we are still not doing enough, nor moving fast enough, to prevent irreversible and catastrophic climate disruption.”
In October, a top U.N.-backed scientific panel found that nations have barely a decade to take “unprecedented” actions and cut their emissions in half by 2030 to prevent the worst consequences of climate change.
The panel’s report found “no documented historic precedent” for the rapid changes to the infrastructure of society that would be needed to hold warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels.
The day after Thanksgiving, the Trump administration released a nearly 1,700-page report co-written by hundreds of scientists finding that climate change is already causing increasing damage to the United States.
Trump disagrees with his own administrations assessment.
That was followed by another report detailing the growing gap between the commitments made at earlier U.N. conferences and what is needed to steer the planet off its calamitous path.
Coupled with Wednesday’s findings, that drumbeat of daunting news has cast a considerable pall over the international climate talks in Poland, which began this week and are scheduled to run through Dec. 14.
Attribution:The Washington Post