Worldwide fossil fuel burning to hit record high in 2017

James Hansen at COP23

The group, which helped organize three research groups in concert to come to the conclusions, attributed the carbon growth - likely to be 2 percent year-over-year - to increasing emissions in China and developing nations from burning fossil fuels, aligning with economic growth.

In a report published on Monday, researchers say the increase in global emissions is largely due to growth in coal-fired electricity generation and oil and gas consumption in China.

Pep Canadell, a geoscientist at Australia's CSIRO and head of the Global Carbon Project that produces the carbon budget report each year, says that the findings are disappointing. An increase in burning coal in China, in particular, is likely responsible for much of the projected increase in carbon emissions.

"Global CO2 emissions appear to be going up strongly once again ..."

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.

"By continuing to cause this inexorable rise in Carbon dioxide we are pushing the climate closer and closer to the edge of our comfort zone", said Professor Richard Betts, of the University of Exeter and the Met Office Hadley Centre.

Australia has committed to reducing emissions to 26-28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030.

The rest of the world's emissions-representing 40 percent of the global total-are expected to increase by 2.3 percent.

Dr Canadell is also concerned that Australia is running out of time to reverse the emissions trajectory.

The research came out as representatives of almost 200 countries meet in Bonn, Germany, to hash out rules for complying with Paris. A report released earlier this year by scientists at Carbon Tracker, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and Yale University showed that global emissions must begin falling quickly after 2020 in order to keep the global temperature from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

The US is expected to see a slower decline in its carbon emissions, from an annual 1.2% drop over the past 10 years to a decrease of 0.4% this year, with a return to growth in coal use, as president Donald Trump promised to rescue the coal industry.

"With global Carbon dioxide 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". Those from all human activities (fossil fuels, industry, and land-use change) will reach around 41bn tonnes, similar to the record high in 2015. The US emissions are projected to decline by 0.4% this year when its GDP will grow by about 2.2%.

But as the Trump administration continues to push fossil fuel use at home and overseas, the Global Carbon Budget's scientists warn that the world is running out of time to tackle climate change.

"Policy makers in Bonn are preparing for the Global Stocktake under the Paris Agreement, that will start in 2018 and occur every five years, and this puts vast pressure on the scientific community to develop methods and perform measurements that can truly verify changes in emissions within this five-yearly cycle", said Prof Le Quéré.

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