The Paris climate accord has been in effect for more than one year, and global levels of man-made greenhouse gas emissions are set to hit record levels by the end of the year.
The Global Carbon Project (GCP) estimates humans will emit 36.8 gigatons of greenhouse gases by the end of 2017, up 2 percent from 2016’s 36.2 gigatons. The group estimates emissions will increase again in 2018.
It was hard news to take for environmentalists and politicians who spent the past three years pushing the idea the global economy has “decoupled” from carbon dioxide emissions, which scientists say are warming the atmosphere.
Many of those same activists see the Paris accord as the best tool to bend the global emissions curve, but one year into the deal and global economies continue to dominate the picture.
The Paris climate accord went into effect in November 2016 after enough countries formally ratified the deal. President Donald Trump announced in June to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris accord, arguing it was bad for the economy.
Previous GCP estimates suggested global emissions were basically flat for the past three years. Activists seized on the data as evidence the green energy boom was already changing the world’s emissions trajectory.
However, actual experts on this subject have pointed out the world is not even close to “decoupling” emissions from economic growth, nor does it look like the world’s emissions trajectory is near where it needs to be to slow global warming.
China is the main culprit behind the growth in emissions.
“The most significant factor in the resumption of global emissions growth is the projected 3.5% increase in China’s emissions,” GCP researchers wrote of their findings.
“This is the result of higher energy demand, particularly from the industrial sector, along with a decline in hydro power use because of below-average rainfall,” researchers wrote. “The 2017 growth may result from economic stimulus from the Chinese government, and may not continue in the years ahead.”
“The United States and Europe, the second and third top emitters, continued their decade-long decline in emissions, but at a reduced pace in 2017,” researchers found.
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