Despite economic growth, humanity released slightly less carbon dioxide (CO2) from fossil fuels into the atmosphere this year. Scientists of the "Global Carbon Project" expect a worldwide decrease of about 0.6 percent compared to the previous year to 35.7 billion tons of CO2. But it was unlikely that emissions of the climate-damaging greenhouse gas had really peaked yet, Corinne Le Quere of Britain’s University of East Anglia said Monday on the sidelines of the Paris UN climate conference.
The prediction was published in the journals Nature Climate Change and Earth System Science Data . "While previous declines in emissions have occurred during economic crises, this would be the first decline during a period of strong economic growth," the university said. The statistical uncertainty is quite rough, however, with the forecast ranging from a significant drop in emissions of 1.6 percent to a slight increase of 0.5 percent. The scientists rely on data on energy consumption in China and the U.S. as well as expected economic growth in the rest of the world.
Last year, CO2 emissions from fossil fuels and industry had already risen only slightly (plus 0.6 percent) according to the study. This is a significant shift compared to the strong increase in the previous decade, when CO2 emissions rose by an average of 2.4 percent annually.
A key player in the development of CO2 emissions is the dynamic emerging economy of China, which in 2014 was the world’s largest emitter, accounting for more than a quarter of all emissions. The predicted decline is largely due to China’s declining coal use this year, Le Quere explained. China’s own climate goals include peaking CO2 emissions before 2030.
"This is interesting news," Ottmar Edenhofer of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research told the German Press Agency. The figures from the Global Carbon Project are reliable. However, it is far too early to declare a trend reversal. It has long been known that China is putting the brakes on coal expansion. "But at the same time, 1,000 gigawatts of coal-fired power plants are planned worldwide."
The authors state that a lasting reduction in emissions is not yet to be expected: Growth in emerging economies continues to be based primarily on coal. In addition, the decline in some industrialized countries is still modest. "Global emissions must decrease to near zero to achieve climate stabilization."The CO2 content in the atmosphere is now at its highest level for at least 800,000 years.000 years.
Representatives of 195 countries and the EU are currently negotiating a global climate treaty in Le Bourget, near Paris, that aims to limit greenhouse gas emissions to keep global warming to a tolerable level.