Global carbon emissions are expected to reach a record high this year, dashing hopes that such pollution could finally be coming to a standstill, according to an annual report released Wednesday.
The report by the Global Carbon Project, which comes as world leaders gather in Poland for the 24th annual United Nations climate conference, projects there will be a 2.7 percent rise in global carbon emissions this year compared with a 1.6 percent increase last year.
In the three years prior to that, emissions had remained steady, giving researchers hope that the pattern might continue. Now, they aren’t so sure.
“This growth in global CO2 emissions puts the goals set out in the Paris Agreement in jeopardy,” lead author Corinne Le Quéré, director of the Tyndall Centre of Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia, said in a statement about the study. Her findings were co-authored with nearly 80 other scientists.
The expected increase is largely driven by a rise in coal use, the study found. The two biggest contributors to the coal emissions increase in 2018 were China and India. The United States led with the largest decline, a phenomenon the report’s authors attribute to the closing of more than 250 coal-fired power plants since 2010.
But the U.S. isn’t in the clear. Emissions here still went up 2.5 percent, due to oil use and higher demands for cooling and heating.
“All countries need to increase their mitigation efforts and levels of ambition to reverse the tide of emissions growth, if decarbonisation pathways consistent with the climate targets of 1.5℃ and well-below 2℃ are to be met,” the study authors wrote in an op-ed in The Conversation on Wednesday.
Emissions by the European Union, meanwhile, are expected to decline by 0.7 percent, according to the study.
Le Quéré is scheduled to answer questions about the Global Carbon Project’s findings on Thursday at the climate conference in Katowice, Poland. There on Monday, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres echoed the overall urgency of the study’s findings.
“Even as we witness devastating climate impacts causing havoc across the world,” he said in his opening remarks, “we are still not doing enough, nor moving fast enough, to prevent irreversible and catastrophic climate disruption.”
The conference is scheduled to run through the end of next week.
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