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Analysis: Global CO2 emissions set to rise 2% in 2017 after three-year ‘plateau’

Over the past three years, global CO2 emissions from fossil fuels have remained relatively flat. However, early estimates from the Global Carbon Project (GCP) using preliminary data suggest that this is likely to change in 2017 with global emissions set to grow by around 2%, albeit with some uncertainties.

Hopes that global emissions had peaked during the past three years were likely premature. However, GCP researchers say that global emissions are unlikely to return to the high growth rates seen during the 2000s. They argue that it is more likely that emissions over the next few years will plateau or only grow slightly, as countries implement their commitments under the Paris Agreement.

2017 emissions likely to increase

The GCP is a group of international researchers who assess both sources and sinks of carbon. It has published an annual global carbon budget report since 2006. Its newly released global carbon budget for 2017 provides estimates of emissions by country, global emissions from land-use changes, atmospheric accumulation of CO2, and absorption of carbon from the atmosphere by the land and oceans.

Video summary of the findings of the GCP’s new 2017 global carbon budget, via Future Earth and the GCP.The figure below shows global CO2 emissions from fossil fuels, divided into emissions from China (red shading), India (yellow), the US (bright blue), EU (dark blue) and the remainder of the world (grey). After a rapid increase in global emissions of around 3% per year between 2000 and 2013, emissions only grew by 0.4% per year between 2013 and 2016.

Annual CO2 emissions from fossil fuels by major country and rest of world from 1959-2017, in gigatons CO2 per year (GtCO2). Note that 2017 numbers are preliminary estimates. Data from the Global Carbon Project and available here. Chart by Carbon Brief using Highcharts.

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