Global carbon emissions are set to hit an all-time high of 37.1 billion tonnes of CO2 in 2018, according to researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the Global Carbon Project.
India, the third-highest contributor, is projected to see emissions rise by 6.3% from 2017. The 2.7% projected global rise in 2018 has been driven by appreciable growth in coal use for the second year in a row, and sustained growth in oil and gas use, according to the study that was published simultaneously Wednesday in several leading scientific journals.
This week, representatives from more than 190 countries have begun discussions at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 24) in Katowice, Poland, on ways to equitably cut carbon emissions.
Second year in a row
CO2 emissions have now risen for a second year, the study’s authors say, after three years of little to no growth from 2014 to 2016. The rise in 2017 was 1.6%.
The 10 biggest emitters in 2018 are China, U.S., India, Russia, Japan, Germany, Iran, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and Canada. The EU as a region of countries ranks third. China’s emissions accounted for 27% of the global total, having grown an estimated 4.7% in 2018 and reaching a new all-time high.
Emissions in the U.S., which has withdrawn from its commitment to the Paris Agreement, account for 15% of the global total, and look set to have grown about 2.5% in 2018 after several years of decline.
Lead researcher Corinne Le Quéré, Professor of Climate Change Science and Policy at UEA, said in a statement: “We are seeing a strong growth of global CO2 emissions once again. Emissions need to peak and rapidly decrease to address climate change. With this year’s growth in emissions, it looks like the peak is not yet in sight.”
Limiting global warming to the 2015 Paris Agreement goal of keeping the global temperature increase this century to well below 2°C, would need carbon dioxide emissions to decline by 50% by 2030 and reach net zero by about 2050.
Though coal use contributed to the rise in 2018 from last year, it still remains below its historical high in 2013 but may exceed that if current growth continues, the study’s authors.