Global emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels and industry are projected to rise by more than 2% in 2018, to a new record. The increase is mainly due to sustained growth in oil and gas use, according to the Global Carbon Project.
“The 2018 rise in fossil CO2 emissions place us on a trajectory for warming that is currently well beyond 1.5 °C,” says Corinne Le Quéré of the University of East Anglia, UK. “It is not enough to support renewables. Efforts to decarbonise need to be expanded throughout the economy.”
The atmospheric CO2 concentration is set to reach 407 ppm on average in 2018, 45% above pre-industrial levels.
The project predicts that 2018 carbon-dioxide emissions will rise 2.7%, with an uncertainty range between 1.8% and 3.7%. In 2017, carbon emissions grew by 1.6% after a three-year hiatus.
In the 2000s, global fossil carbon-dioxide emissions – from fossil fuels, industry and cement – grew at over 3% per year. Growth has slowed since 2010, and from 2014 to 2016 emissions remained relatively flat with only a slight increase.
The UN is holding its COP24 meeting of annual climate negotiations in Katowice, Poland, this week.
According to the IPCC, to limit warming below 1.5 °C, CO2 emissions should decline by 50% by 2030 and reach net zero around 2050. Current country commitments lead to +3 °C of warming, well above the Paris Agreement goals.
Chinese emissions, which account for 27% of global emissions, look set to grow about 4.7% in 2018, according to the Global Carbon Budget. US emissions, totalling some 15% of the global output, are predicted to rise about 2.5% then decline in 2019. EU emissions, 10% of the global total, are on track for a decline of 0.7%, well below the declines of 2% a year in the decade up to 2014. Indian emissions, accounting for 7% of the total, look set to continue their strong growth with a rise of some 6.3% in 2018.
The 10 biggest emitters were China, the US, India, Russia, Japan, Germany, Iran, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and Canada, with the EU28 as a whole ranking third.
Global energy growth is effectively outpacing decarbonisation efforts, fuelled by increasing demand for personal transport, freight, aviation and shipping, according to Future Earth.
“This news is particularly difficult, when it is clear that we have the technology, the knowledge and business acumen to cut our emissions exponentially,” says Future Earth executive director Amy Luers. “Tackling climate change has now become a win-win. We just need to start down the winning path.”
Although global coal use is still 3% lower than its historical high, it looks set to grow in 2018, driven by rising energy consumption in China and India. In the last decade, oil and gas use have grown almost unabated. Gas use has been pushed up by declines in coal use and increased demand for gas in industry. Oil fuels personal transport, freight, aviation and shipping, and is used to produce petrochemicals.
The Global Carbon Project published its 2018 Global Carbon Budget in Nature, Earth System Science Data and Environmental Research Letters (ERL).