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First CO2 rise in four years puts pressure on Paris targets

From BBC - November 13, 2017

Global emissions of CO2 in 2017 are projected to rise for the first time in four years, dashing hopes that a peak might soon be reached.

The main cause of the expected growth has been greater use of coal in China as its economy expanded.

Researchers are uncertain if the rise in emissions is a one-off or the start of a new period of CO2 build-up.

Scientists say that a global peak in CO2 before 2020 is needed to limit dangerous global warming this century.

The Global Carbon Project has been analysing and reporting on the scale of emissions of CO2 since 2006.

Carbon output has grown by about 3% per year in that period, but growth essentially declined or remained flat between 2014 and 2016.

The latest figures indicate that in 2017, emissions of CO2 from all human activities grew by about 2% globally.

There is some uncertainty about the data but the researchers involved have concluded that emissions are on the rise again.

"Global CO2 emissions appear to be going up strongly once again after a three-year stable period. This is very disappointing," said the lead author of the study, Prof Corinne Le Qur from the University of East Anglia.

"With global CO2 emissions from human activities estimated at 41 billion tonnes for 2017, time is running out on our ability to keep warming well below 2 degrees C, let alone 1.5C."

The most important element in causing this rise has been China, which is responsible for around 28% of the global total. Emissions there went up 3.5% in 2017, mainly because of increased coal use, driven in the main by a growing economy.

Another important factor in China has been lower water levels in rivers which have seen a drop in the amount of electricity made from hydro-power, with utilities turning to coal and gas to make up the shortfall.

US emissions have continued to decline but the fall has been less than expected. Higher prices saw a drop in the use of natural gas for electricity - with renewables and hydro-power picking up the slack.

Coal use has also grown slightly in the US this year, with consumption up about a half of one percent.

India's emissions are projected to grow by about 2%, which is a considerable decrease from around 6% per year over the last decade.

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