Most experts agree that the world is heading toward a catastrophic rise in global temperatures unless something changes drastically, and soon. But there had been at least one recent ray of sunshine on the climate front: Emissions plateaued in the last three years, bolstering hopes that we’d seen the absolute peak of global emissions.
Well, it turns out we hadn’t. Happy Monday!
In papers released by the Global Carbon Project, scientists predicted that emissions from human activity would rise by about 2 percent this year, to 41 billion tons. Thirty-seven-billion of those are a result of fossil fuels and industry. It’s too early to say whether the rise is part of a trend, or more of a blip, but either way, it’s a return to the norms of the early part of this decade, when carbon output regularly inched upwards by multiple percentage points a year.
The bump is driven largely by China, which accounts for almost 30 percent of emissions worldwide. The country has invested heavily in coal to power its burgeoning economy, even as it attempts to assume the mantle of global leadership on climate change, with the United States in retreat.
Carbon emissions are also rising in developing nations, most notably in India — though the pace of 2 percent there is much lower than in recent years thanks to government-backed efforts.
Emissions are ticking down in Europe and the United States, but America’s retrenchment on coal (thanks, President Trump!) means it is projected to decline only 0.4 percent, less than in previous years.
The reports highlight the difficulty of meeting the modest goals of the Paris climate accords, which has been committed to by every country in the world except the U.S. They arrive amid the backdrop of a global climate meeting in Bonn, Germany, where the United States is represented both by the Trump administration and a shadow delegation attempting to assure the rest of the world that, even with a climate-denying president in office, the country still cares about averting disaster.