Worldwide fossil fuel burning to hit record high in 2017

With a target of cutting emissions by about 202 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2030 through blending petrol with ethanol a sugarcane-derived fuel Zimbabwe has made some progress

Carbon emissions back on the rise

While carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel and industry in China are expected to rise about 3.5 per cent, after about two years of economic slowdown, India's contribution to the atmospheric build-up would go up by almost 2 per cent, the researchers have found.

The research reveals that global emissions from all human activities will reach 41 billion tonnes in 2017, following a projected 2% rise in burning fossil fuels.

US emissions were set to decline by 0.4 percent in 2017, a smaller fall than in recent years, also reflecting more burning of coal.

Indian emissions are expected to grow by 2 percent in 2017, but that is in comparison to increases of 6 percent per year over the past decade.

Increases in coal use in China and the United States are also expected this year, reversing their decreases since 2013.

Researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the Global Carbon Project forecast China to be the main cause of the renewed emissions growth, with a 3.5% projected increase.

The researchers said there are uncertainties in our ability to estimate emissions changes - Glen Peters of the CICERO Center for International Climate Research and lead author on a study said it could take up to 10 years to independently verify a change in emissions based on measurements of Carbon dioxide atmospheric concentrations. This year we have seen how climate change can amplify the impacts of hurricanes with more intense rainfall, higher sea levels, and warmer ocean conditions favoring more powerful storms.

In the U.S. and European Union, on the other hand, emissions came down by 0.4 per cent and 0.2 per cent respectively. (GDP to rise 3.6% according to International Monetary Fund figures).

It noted that this year's emission rise would follow three years of almost no growth in emissions.

The report, in fact, noted that there are 22 countries (representing 20% of global emissions) which recorded decline in their emissions during the last decade (2007-16) even as their economies grew. The US emissions are projected to decline by 0.4% this year when its GDP will grow by about 2.2%.

It estimates that 37 billion tonnes of Carbon dioxide will be emitted from burning fossil fuels, the highest total so far.

Atmospheric CO2 concentration reached 403 parts per million in 2016, and is expected to increase by 2.5 ppm in 2017.

The team flags that persistent uncertainties exist in our ability to estimate recent changes in emissions, particularly when there are unexpected changes as in the last few years.

However, experts said that an already hugely ambitious target had been thrown further into doubt with the likely increase in Carbon dioxide emissions this year.

They say the growth in 2017 is mainly due to stronger emissions growth in China and other developing countries, and their findings show that the Paris goals could quickly slip out of reach.

"The federal government can slow the development of renewables and low-carbon technologies, but it can't stop it", Robert Jackson, a co-author of this year's Global Carbon Budget and a professor in Earth system science at Stanford University, said in a press statement.

All of this might be an unwelcome message for policy makers and delegates at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 23) in Bonn this week.

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