China’s energy needs are being blamed for global carbon emissions rising for the first time in four years

China’s growing energy needs have been blamed for global carbon emissions rising in 2017, following three years of them remaining constant.

Research conducted by the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the Global Carbon Project has suggested emissions in China are projected to grow by approximately 3.5% in 2017.

Even though there has been an increased effort to use green energy within the nation, coal use is up an estimated 3%, oil use is up 5% and natural gas use is up nearly 12% in China.

“The green economy is booming in China and elsewhere, but growing energy demands are also being met with new oil, coal and natural gas infrastructure,” said Stanford University scientist Rob Jackson, who chairs the Global Carbon Project.

Image courtesy of University of East Anglia

In their paper, published in in the journals Nature Climate ChangeEarth System Science Data Discussions and Environmental Research Letters, the researchers forecast that global fossil fuel emissions will reach a record 37 billion tons of carbon dioxide in 2017, with total emissions reaching a record 41 billion tons, including deforestation.

“Global CO2 emissions appear to be going up strongly once again after a three year stable period. This is very disappointing,” said lead researcher Prof Corinne Le Quéré, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at UEA

“With global CO2 emissions from human activities estimated at 41 billion tonnes for 2017, time is running out on our ability to keep warming well below 2ºC let alone 1.5ºC.

“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 favouring more powerful storms. This is a window into the future. We need to reach a peak in global emissions in the next few years and drive emissions down rapidly afterwards to address climate change and limit its impacts.”

Image courtesy of University of East Anglia

While emissions are predicated to rise in China, the researchers expect CO2 emissions to decline by 0.4% in the US and 0.2% in the EU; although, these are smaller declines than during the previous decade.

Renewable energy has also increased rapidly, and 2017 should see another record set for the amount of renewable generating capacity being installed.

“This year’s result is discouraging, but I remain hopeful,” said Jackson. “In the US, cities, states and companies have seized leadership on energy efficiency and low-carbon renewables that the federal government has abdicated.”

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