World / Science & Health

Global emissions hit record, climbing 1.6 percent, with Paris deal targets in doubt

Bloomberg

Two years after 200 nations forged a United Nations deal to protect the climate, output of gases blamed for global warming has surged to a record.

Carbon dioxide emissions from energy use climbed 1.6 percent in 2017, with emerging and developed economies both contributing to the increase, according to BP PLC data published Wednesday.

In the U.S., which intends to withdraw from the U.N.’s Paris accord, greenhouse-gas output fell for a third year, by 0.5 percent.

Emissions from Japan also fell slightly, by 0.1 percent.

Emissions are rising in the run-up to the 2020 start of the Paris deal, which pushed all countries to make reductions in fossil-fuel use. As emerging nations’ growth accelerates, countries remain divided about who should finance projects to limit pollution and how deep national pledges should go.

Hardly any nations have plans compatible with the Paris targets.

The biggest advances in emissions were in emerging nations, with a 4.4 percent jump in India and a 1.6 percent gain in China. Carbon dioxide output also rose in Brazil, Qatar and Russia, while Turkey’s jumped by 13 percent.

In the European Union, home to the world’s biggest carbon market, emissions from energy use advanced 1.5 percent. Greenhouse gas output rose in Canada.

BP’s data are among the first that provides an estimate of national emissions output for the year and meshes with preliminary statistics published in March by the International Energy Agency. Official data are published later and cover a wider range of greenhouse gases.

While the use of renewables has surged, they have still not displacing coal, the dirtiest of fossil fuels. Coal’s share of power generation globally has been little changed over the past three decades, the BP data show.

Spencer Dale, BP chief economist, said, “I’m more worried by the lack of progress in the power sector over the past 20 years than by the pickup in carbon emissions last year.”

Programs that put a cost on emissions will cover only about 20 percent of global emissions by 2020, according to the World Bank’s State & Trends of Carbon Pricing 2018 report. Prices in programs that do exist aren’t high enough to keep temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit), the main target mentioned in the 2015 Paris accord.

Given current efforts, the world is probably heading for temperature gains of 4 degrees or more, according to Climate Action Tracker.