By Jessica Corbett
As world leaders are meeting at the COP24 in Poland to discuss how to achieve goals outlined in the 2015 Paris climate agreement, scientists and activists are raising alarm about “brutal” new research published by the Global Carbon Project on Wednesday which offers the international community a “reality check” by showing that carbon emissions will hit a record high this year.
“We’ve got a LOT of work to do folks. After flat-lining for 3 years, CO2 emissions have now ticked up two years straight,” tweeted Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann, linking to the Washington Post‘s report on the new data. Mann also called for electing politicians willing to take the urgent actions that experts increasingly warn are needed to avert global catastrophe.
As the Post summarized, according to the research:
Between 2014 and 2016, emissions remained largely flat, leading to hopes that the world was beginning to turn a corner. Those hopes 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 nearly 5 percent emissions growth in China and more than 6 percent in India, researchers estimated, along with growth in many other nations throughout the world. Emissions by the United States grew 2.5 percent, while emissions by the European Union declined by just under 1 percent.
While the surge in the U.S. was driven partly by a cold winter and hot summer—which led to an increased use of heating and air conditioning—China’s rise was notably fueled by investment in coal-powered manufacturing. Researchers say reversing this trend will require climate-friendly reforms to transportation, manufacturing, and agriculture.
“This is terrible news,” Andrew Jones, co-director of Climate Interactive, told the Associated Press about the project’s findings. “Every year that we delay serious climate action, the Paris goals become difficult to meet.”
The Paris agreement—which President Donald Trump has vowed to withdraw from, making the United States the only nation on the planet that doesn’t support the international accord—aims to keep “global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.”