Global carbon emissions set to grow more slowly in 2019, experts say

25 2015 steam billows from cooling towers of a power plant operating for the city's power and heating in Beijing

After an increase of 2.8 percent in 2018 to 5.4 billion tonnes of CO2, emissions in the USA are projected to drop by 2.4 percent in 2019 "continuing a slow but steady" average decline of 0.8 percent per year from 2013 to 2018.

Researchers involved in the preparation of the report said that global carbon emissions are still heading in the wrong direction and that governments need to be rapidly decarbonising.

The researchers said coal use in China has seen a modest rise this year is due to low growth in electricity demand, and no growth in coal-fired power generation.

The 2019 Global Carbon Budget released today at COP25 in Madrid outlines an estimated increase in CO2 emissions of 200 million tonnes since 2018 to reach a record high of nearly 37 billion tonnes.

The recent growth in low carbon technologies have at best slowed the growth in global fossil fuel emissions.

A surprise drop in coal use in the United States and Europe has helped to slow the growth of global carbon dioxide emissions this year, with softening demand in China and India also contributing, according to a study published on Wednesday.

"China had low growth and unexpected declines in CO2emissions over the period 2014 to 2016, but in 2017 and 2018, its Carbon dioxide emissions rose again by 1.7 per cent and 2.3 per cent respectively. Moreover, the addition of a very wet monsoon led to very high hydropower generation and a decline in generation from coal", the report says, explaining the possible causes for decline in India's emissions growth.

Burning fossil fuels for electricity, transport and heating, as well as using them for industrial processes such as making steel and cement, has accounted for 86% of carbon emissions over the past decade.

In the U.S., the study noted that coal is being displaced by gas, and to a lesser extent by solar and wind power, with electricity demand being low in 2019, and a projected decline in oil use slightly in 2019.

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It's not impossible to do; there are about 20 countries whose economies have grown while their Carbon dioxide emissions have declined, including Denmark, Finland, and the USA, and that's thanks to two things: energy use dropped because it became more efficient, and renewables offset or replaced fossil fuels.

The researchers estimate that emissions in the European Union will fall by 1.7% this year compared to 2018, largely thanks to a 10% decline in emissions from coal and stable cement emissions.

They also added from preliminary estimates that emissions from deforestation using fire, and other land-use change for 2019 reached 6 billion tonnes of CO2.

2018 saw carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere reach a new record high - 407 parts per million, 147 percent higher than pre-industrial levels, largely due to a surge in demand for coal and oil. This increase, the study finds, stems partly from increased fire activity in the Amazon as well as unusually high fire rates in forest planted on peatlands in Indonesia.

According to the study, concentrations of Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere continue to grow - projected to reach 410 parts per million averaged over the year.

Current climate and energy policies adopted by different countries are too weak to reverse trends in global emissions, they cautioned.

"Policies have been successful to varying degrees in deploying low-carbon technologies, such as solar, wind and electric vehicles". "But these often add to existing demand for energy rather than displacing technologies that emit CO2, particularly in countries where energy demand is growing", said study co-author Corinne Le Quere from the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom".

They said: "Replacing fossil fuels with low and no-carbon alternatives is critical for limiting climate change to 1.5° or 2°C, but only if such alternatives displace fossil fuels", they wrote.

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