After three years (2014-2016) of little or no increase in global emissions of carbon dioxide by humans, the Global Carbon Project announces that carbon emissions have spiked in this year, 2017. The figures on this page, all copyrighted by the Global Carbon Project, speak for themselves.

    If this spike in emissions proves to be correct, CO2 emissions are once again rising at the rapid rate seen from 2004 to 2013. When we look at differences between countries, emissions decreased in 22 countries with growing Gross Domestic Products (GDP) in the last ten years. These countries include the United States and most, but not all, nations in the European Common Market. In China, however, emissions declined for the past 3 years but are now rising again.

      We can take away one message from the “spaghetti plot” of future possible emissions of net CO2 (above, at right): the only pathways that realize a future temperature rise of less than 2ºC are pathways in which emissions begin to decline year-to-year within ten years from now. The goal of 2ºC is the target of the Paris Climate Accords, which the government of China has agreed to follow. The government of the United States had agreed to that goal, but now intends to withdraw its agreement.

1. "Global Carbon Budget 2017", by Corinne Le Quéré, and 75 other authors, Carbon budget and trends 2017, published 13 November 2017, and available at  DOI: 10.5194/essdd-2017-123.

     In the box above, “atmospheric growth” means the increase in the amount of CO2 gas in the atmosphere over time. Although emissions of the gas were constant in 2014--16, the total amount kept growing because tropical forests were absorbing less of the gas than usual during the El Niño disturbance.

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