India and China have been named as the top 10 emitters for the rise in coal consumption for the second consecutive year according to a leading scientific study. The emissions are projected to increase by more than two per cent to a new record, mainly due to sustained growth in oil and gas use, the study said. The projection by the Global Carbon Project estimates that CO2 emissions will rise a projected 2.7%, with an uncertainty range between 1.8% and 3.7%.
Carbon emissions grew by 1.6 per cent in 2017 after a three-year break. The findings come from the 2018 Global Carbon Budget published by the Global Carbon Project in the journals Nature, Environmental Research Letters and Earth System Science Data.
The announcement comes as world meets in Katowice for the annual UN climate negotiations (COP24). The 10 biggest emitters were China, the US, India, Russia, Japan, Germany, Iran, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Canada, with the EU28 as a whole ranking third.
Indian emissions, accounting for seven per cent of global emissions, look set to continue their strong growth with about 6.3 per cent (4.3 per cent to 8.3 per cent) in 2018, with growth across all fuels (coal plus 7.1 per cent, oil plus 2.9 per cent and gas plus 6.0 per cent).
Chinese emissions, accounting for 27 per cent of global emissions, look set to grow about 4.7 per cent this year, reaching a new all-time high. Renewed emissions growth in China seemed closely linked to construction activity and economic stimulus.
The rapid growth in low carbon technologies are not yet sufficient to cause global emissions to peak, let alone drive emissions aggressively down as required by the Paris agreement (global warming “well below two degrees Celsius”).
“The 2018 rise in fossil CO2 emissions place us on a trajectory for warming that is currently well beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius,” said lead researcher Corinne Le Quere, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia.
“It is not enough to support renewables. Fossil energy needs to be phased out and efforts to decarbonise need to be expanded throughout economies.”
This growth in global CO2 emissions puts the goals set out in the Paris Agreement in jeopardy.
Global fossil CO2 emissions (fossil fuels, industry and cement) grew at over three per cent per year in the 2000s, but growth has slowed since 2010, and from 2014 to 2016 emissions remained relatively flat with only a slight increase.
But global energy growth, especially in oil, gas and coal, is effectively outpacing decarbonisation efforts, fuelled by rising coal use and increasing demand for personal transport, freight, aviation and shipping.
“The continued rise in global emissions is of utmost concern. The recent IPCC report on the risk of 1.5 degrees warming was a sombre wakeup call even for many of us deep in the science,” said Future Earth’s Executive Director Amy Luers.
Although global coal use is still three per cent lower than its historical high in 2013, it is expected to grow in 2018, driven by growth in energy consumption in China and India.
Oil and gas use has grown almost unabated in the last decade. Gas use has been pushed up by declines in coal use and increased demand for gas in industry. Oil is used mainly to fuel personal transport, freight, aviation and shipping, and to produce petrochemicals.
“Addressing climate change is this century’s biggest opportunity. It brings a multitude of health and social benefits to people everywhere. We are excited to be part of our local and global community working hard to ensure we bend the curve of rising emissions and reach net zero by 2050,” Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra said in a statement to IANS.
Reacting to the Global Carbon Project estimates, published Christian Aid’s International Climate Lead Mohamed Adow told IANS: “All the warm words spoken at the UN climate summit in Poland won’t help prevent climate change.
“The climate does not respond to lofty rhetoric, it responds to carbon dioxide emission reductions.” He said with droughts, heatwaves, floods and storms causing mayhem across the world in 2018 the fact “emissions are actually increasing this year shows the greater urgency that governments need to show”.