INEXORABLE GROWTH

Instead of falling, global emissions are set to rise in 2018

Cutting back.
Cutting back.
Image: EPA/Shutterstock/James Kelley
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Earlier today (Oct. 8), the world’s foremost body on climate change published a stark warning: cut emissions now or face climate catastrophe. This isn’t fear mongering. Studies show that it is cheaper to reign in climate change than to deal with the damage it’s predicted to cause.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released today says that to keep global average temperatures from rising above 1.5°C, the world needs to reach net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions as soon as 2050. Emissions must not only drop; they must do so rapidly.

But the opposite is happening. One of the world’s leading energy bodies, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has warned that emissions in 2018 are set to rise.

Image for article titled Instead of falling, global emissions are set to rise in 2018
Image: IEA

“When I look at the first nine months of data, I expect in 2018 carbon emissions will increase once again. This is definitely worrying news for our climate goals,” Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA, told the Guardian. “We need to see a steep decline in emissions. We are not seeing even flat emissions.”

Glen Peters of the Center for International Climate Research says he agrees with Birol’s assessment. Emissions from both China and the US, the world’s two largest emitters, are up in the first nine months of the year. The reason is likely tied to strong economic growth, according to Peters.

Emissions in 2017 rose 1.4%, the first increase after a three-year period when they were flat. Neither Birol nor Peters would say exactly just how much they expect emissions to rise in 2018, though both are currently working on estimates. Peters will publish results in late November, whereas Birol’s is expected in March next year.