In the midst of the United Nations climate conference, a depressing study was released: after three years at the same level, global CO2 emissions will again increase by approximately two percent in 2017.
Everything went smoothly last Monday at the 23rd conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in the German city of Bonn.
Germany as "technical hostess" announced advances. The envoys of the American president Donald Trump behaved calmly. And the pavilion dominated a good atmosphere with music from Fiji, the country that presides over COP this year. However, everything was cut short. In the press center, renowned researchers presented a study with bad news: CO2 emissions increase.
The report "Global Carbon Budget" announced a rise of two percent for the current year, reaching 41 gigatonnes, or 41,000 million tons, according to the experts published in the journal "Environmental Research Letters".
Previously, emissions had remained the same for three years. Experts also expect an increase for 2018. Most of the emissions come from coal, gas and oil, as is usual.
Who takes responsibility? "This has a lot to do with what is happening in China today," said Glen Peters, one of the authors of the study. It is estimated that the Asian giant will emit 3.5 percent more than last year, reaching 10.5 gigatonnes, due to an increased use of coal.
In India there will also be an increase, although less, of two percent, due to the current economic weakness in the country. If the Indian economy recovers soon, CO2 emissions could increase rapidly by 2018.
On the contrary, in Europe and the United States emissions decreased between 0.2 and 0.4 percent. However, they did so at a pace too slow to compensate for the rise in other regions of the world, the researchers noted.
Corinne Le Quéré, from the Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research in Norwich, United Kingdom, who led the study, was disappointed with the results.
"This year we have seen how climate change can strengthen hurricanes when the rains are stronger, sea level rise and rising ocean temperatures cause the formation of larger storms," he explained.
Time is running out to achieve the goal of limiting global warming to two degrees centigrade, not to mention the 1.5 degree target, he said.
The study will influence the Bonn negotiations, German Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks said in a first reaction. "However, I do not think there should be additional pressure here in the negotiations, and those who negotiate here are aware of their responsibility," he added.
Between 2014 and 2016, emissions remained stable despite global economic growth. This was mainly due to the lower use of coal, the improvement of energy efficiency and the boom of renewable energies such as wind or solar energy.
The experts considered the decoupling of gross domestic product growth and emissions especially satisfactory. This shows that economic growth does not necessarily lead to an increase in carbon dioxide emissions. Even some experts hoped that the maximum level of emissions had already been reached.
In fact, according to the report, in the last decade more than 20 countries with steady economic growth recorded a reduction in emissions, including Germany, Denmark, the United States, France, Poland, Romania and Serbia. But these countries together are responsible for only 20 percent of CO2 emissions.
In fact, experts estimate that they will continue to rise as well in 2018. "This is a real concern," said Robert Jackson of Stanford University.
The experts refer to the forecasts of economic growth of the World Bank, which calculates that in the whole world it will grow 2.9 percent in 2018, the highest value since 2011. And the forecasts of the International Monetary Fund are even higher.
The "Global Carbon Budget" report was prepared by 76 researchers from 57 institutes in 15 countries. This year it was published for the twelfth time and is part of the Global Carbon Project.
Just two weeks ago, a group of researchers reported that the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere had increased faster than ever last year. This was due, in addition to human activities, to the El Niño weather phenomenon, with its rising temperatures in the oceans and droughts in the tropics, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in Geneva.
For this reason, oceans and forests could not absorb as much CO2 as other years. The concentration of CO2 was 403.3 parts per million (ppm), compared to 400 ppm the previous year. A week ago, the organization indicated that 2017 will be "very confident" one of the three warmest years since there are measurements.
The meeting will enter this Wednesday in its final stretch with the planned participation, among others, of the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the French President, Emmanuel Macron. The so-called high-level segment of the negotiations will begin tomorrow with the purpose of agreeing the "fine print" of the Paris Agreement, which will include the legal instruments to be approved at the 2018 Climate Summit in Poland. The Federal President of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, will be in charge of delivering a speech on behalf of the country European Union, "technical host" of the event. The Paris Pact has as its main objective to limit global warming to less than two degrees centigrade compared to the pre-industrial era and, if possible, to 1.5 degrees. A complicated goal, especially after the publication of a report this week that warned that global CO2 emissions will again increase by about two percent in 2017. This led today to the Secretary General of the United Nations Organization ( UN), António Guterres, to ask the participants in the climate conference for a greater effort to fight climate change. "CO2 emissions have risen again, and the Paris Agreement is in danger," Guterres warned through of your account on the Twitter social network. "We must do more!", He added, and appealed to all governments to have a "greater ambition in the fight against climate change."