‘A step back’: Emissions rise as world economy gathers pace

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Global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and industry have renewed their climb after a three-year pause, driven higher by quickening economic growth and the failure to find alternatives particularly to oil, international researchers say.

Carbon emissions will rise 2 per cent in 2017 to almost 37 billion tonnes as the world economy heads for 3.6 per cent annual growth. Total emissions, including from land clearing, push that tally to 41 billion tonnes.

A slightly faster pace of GDP expansion in 2018 will also send emissions from industry and fossil fuel combustion higher for at least another year, according to the 2017 Global Carbon Budget.

“This year’s carbon budget news is a step back for humankind,” said Amy Luers, executive director of Future Earth, a sponsor of the report.

China accounts for much of this year’s forecast increase, with CO2 emissions in the world’s biggest polluter on track to rise 3.5 per cent to 10.5 billion tonnes, after roughly flatlining in 2016. Contributing is a 6 per cent jump in coal-fired electricity generation in the first nine months of 2017 versus a year earlier.

While emissions from the US and the European Union – the next largest blocs – continue to decline, they are shrinking at a slower pace than the average for the past decade.