Carbon emissions back on the rise

Carbon dioxide emissions have started rising again after a three year pause

However, globally, emissions are set to rise once again after three stable years, led by a 3.5% rise in emissions in China, the world's largest polluter.

"This is very disappointing", said Corinne Le Quere, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia and lead author of a major study detailing the findings.

Yang Fuqiang, senior adviser for the NRDC China Program, said the eventual carbon emissions of 2017 could be lower than forecast, as authorities have put on a large-scale production curb on industries such as steel and cement to combat air pollution during winter months.

"With global carbon dioxide emissions from all human activities estimated at 41 billion tons for 2017, time is running out on our ability to keep warming well below 2 degrees Celsius let alone 1.5 degrees Celsius", said Le Quéré.

The projected 2% increase in carbon dioxide emissions comes from growth in China's smokestack industries and jeopardises the Paris climate agreement goals, say experts.

India's emissions are expected to rise by 2 percent, much less than the 6 percent per year it averaged over the last decade, while the European Union's emissions is set to decline by 0.2 percent - compared to an average 2.2 percent drop each year over the last decade.

"The news that emissions are rising after a three-year hiatus is a giant leap backward for humankind", said Amy Luers, a climate policy advisor to Barack Obama and executive director of Future Earth, which co-sponsored the research.

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

The good news, according to environmental economist Frank Jotzo of the Australian National University, is that economic activity on average produces less carbon emissions than it used to.

The Global Carbon Budget report, produced by a team of 77 scientists from 57 organisations around the world, brings together the most accurate information available each year about humanity's carbon output.

Carbon dioxide emissions in Europe and the United States, on the other hand, are on track to be lower in 2017 than in the previous year, down by 0.2%and 0.4% respectively. The country's emissions are predicted to rise by 3.5% this year compared to 2016.

The report says in the last decade (2007-2016), emissions in 22 countries (representing 20 per cent of global emissions) decreased even as their economies grew.

The report is scary, said British charity Christian Aid's International Climate Lead, Mohamed Adow.

Under the Paris climate agreement, reached at the end of 2015, world leaders committed to making sure global warming stays "well below" two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and to "pursue efforts" to limit the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The increase follows three years of flat emissions. "Coal needs to be rapidly phased out of the global energy mix, while renewables must be ramped up far quicker", he added.

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