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2017 forecast to be one of warmest years ever as global CO2 emissions show disturbing rise

Tue 14 November 2017 | Back to news list

Global carbon dioxide emissions are projected to have risen in 2017 following three years of flat-lining, upsetting hopes that they had peaked. This year is predicted by the World Meteorological Organisation to be one of the three warmest years ever recorded.

The Global Carbon Project, which has been analysing and reporting on CO2 data since 2006, says that output is likely to have grown by about 2% this year, to 41 billion tonnes.

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

Commenting on the figures Prof Corinne Le Quéré from the University of East Anglia said to the BBC: "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.

"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 mainly by a growing economy.

Meanwhile the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) says that 2017 is "very likely" to be in the top three warmest years on record, according to provisional figures. The WMO says it will likely be the hottest year in the absence of the El Niño phenomenon.

The scientists say that the long-term trend of warming driven by human activities continues unabated and that many of the "extraordinary" weather events seen this year bear the hallmarks of climate change.

The WMO also recently published a greenhouse gases study which found that concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere were the highest on record.

The transport sector (including aviation and shipping) remains Europe's biggest challenge in terms of CO2 emissions. The sector was responsible for 27% of Europe's total CO2 emisssions in 2016 according to the latest inventory published by the European Environment Agency (EEA).

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