Paris deal failing? Global emissions up 2% despite U.S. drop; Chinese pollution skyrockets

The Paris climate pact is off to a rocky start due to a huge increase in Chinese pollution this year, researchers said Monday in a report that finds U.S. emissions are still dropping despite President Trump’s decision to pull the nation from the global agreement. Several studies released by the Global Carbon Project and presented Monday at a United Nations climate conference in Germany say that worldwide carbon emissions are projected to rise about 2 percent in 2017 after they’d been flat for three years, according to preliminary estimates of this year’s data. The culprit, the data show, is China, which had kept its emissions in check in recent years but now is seeing a massive uptick in pollution. Under the Paris pact, China agreed to cap its emissions by 2030, meaning it’s free to ramp up pollution between now and then. China’s uptick in 2017, which comes after a 1 percent drop in 2015 and flat emissions last year, largely is due to the country’s increased use of fossil fuels. More broadly, researchers say the data show the Paris agreement so far is not working as intended. “Global commitments made in Paris in 2015 to reduce emissions are still not being matched by actions,” said Glen Peters, a research director at CICERO Center for International Climate Research. “It is far too early to proclaim that we have turned a corner and started the journey towards zero emissions. While emissions may rise 2 percent in 2017, it is not possible to say whether this is a return to growth, or a one-off increase,” said Mr. Peters, who led one of the studies that was included in the sweeping Global Carbon Project study. Chinese emissions are projected to rise by 3.5 percent this year, according to the study. China is the world’s largest polluter and accounts for nearly 30 percent of all worldwide carbon emissions. India’s emissions also are expected to rise by 2 percent, though that’s a much smaller rise than in recent years. U.S. emissions, meanwhile, are projected to decline by 0.4 percent in 2017. That’s less of a decline than in recent years, research shows, but still underscores that technological advancements and a market shift away from coal in America are having tangible impacts. European emissions also are expected to decline slightly this year. The news comes as virtually every country in the world has signed on to the Paris agreement. Signed in late 2015, the deal required the U.S. to cut its emissions by at least 26 percent by 2025 when compared to 2005 levels. But Mr. Trump shelved that commitment in June, saying the agreement was unfair to the U.S. and let other major polluters — such as China and India — off the hook. Monday’s data appear to back up his contention. Researchers say the new information underscores how difficult it is to control emissions, especially from countries such as China, despite the Paris accord. “The slowdown in emissions growth from 2014 to 2016 was always a delicate balance, and the likely 2 percent increase in 2017 clearly demonstrates that we can’t take the recent slowdown for granted”, said Robbie Andrew, a senior researcher at CICERO who also co-authored the studies.

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