Global Carbon Emissions Projected to Reach Record High, Report Says

Global carbon emissions are expected to reach all-time highs this year because of increased coal and oil use around the world, according to a new report.

The data, published Wednesday, exemplifies the necessity for progress from the United Nations’ climate change conference. Delegates from around the world are currently meeting in Poland to discuss the implementation of the 2015 Paris Agreement, which aims to keep the average global temperature increase below 2 degrees Celsius.

According to research from The Global Carbon Project, carbon emission levels plateaued between 2014 and 2016, creating a glimmer of hope worldwide that the worst effects of climate change could be avoided. However, last year emissions grew by 1.6 percent. This year, they’re projected to increase another 2.7 percent, reaching 37.1 billion tons.

If carbon emissions are not lowered, the worst effects of climate change—including severe weather events and rising seas—will likely come to pass, causing displacement, famine, and economic struggles worldwide.

Wednesday’s report also states the U.S. is by far the largest carbon emitter per capita (although this number is declining), followed by Russia, China, and the EU. Overall, U.S. carbon emissions declined slightly in 2017, but are expected to rise 2.5% in 2018.

Meanwhile, China, India, and other nations are all expected to see growth in emissions as well, with only the EU projected to see a slight drop in emissions for 2018.

The report cites carbon-emitting fuel sources like coal, oil, and gas are being replaced by renewable energy sources, but the growth of the renewable sector has so far been too slow to offset the use of polluting fuels.

The use of coal in China and India is projected to increase drastically in 2018. Yet, coal usage is expected to lower in the U.S. and EU, with use of oil and gas rising.

The report comes after a study from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released in October. The study states that if warming is to be kept below 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, above pre-industrial levels (the more ambitious goal of the Paris Agreement), nations should have zero net emissions by 2050.

But, that could be an impossible goal if the use of carbon-emitting fuels continues at its current rate unmitigated.

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