World’s carbon emissions set to spike by 2% in 2017

By Jeff Tollefson

Humanity’s carbon emissions are likely to surge by 2% in 2017, driven mainly by increased coal consumption in China, scientists reported on 13 November1–3. The unexpected rise would end a three-year period in which emissions remained flat despite a growing global economy.

Researchers with the Global Carbon Project, an international research consortium, presented their findings at the United Nations climate talks in Bonn, Germany. Countries there are ironing out details of how to implement the 2015 Paris climate accord, which calls for limiting global warming to 1.5–2 °C. The projected jump in the world’s greenhouse-gas output underlines the challenges ahead; if the latest analysis proves correct, global carbon dioxide emissions will reach a record-breaking 41 billion tonnes in 2017.

“We were not particularly surprised that emissions are up again, but we were surprised at the size of the growth,” says Corinne Le Quéré, a climate scientist at the University of East Anglia, UK, and co-author of the work, which was published in the journals Nature Climate ChangeEnvironmental Research Letters and Earth System Science Data Discussions. To Le Quéré, the question now is whether 2017 is a temporary blip or a return to business as usual. “If 2018 is as big is 2017, then I will be very discouraged,” she says.

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  1. This is very sad. I hope China recoup very quickly.

    The decline in rain has been a problem taking out baseload provision via hydro. Also it proved difficult for all regions to stick to their transition plan apparently.

  2. @OP – “We were not particularly surprised that emissions are up again, but we were surprised at the size of the growth,” says Corinne Le Quéré, a climate scientist at the University of East Anglia, UK,

    Meanwhile, scientists are enabling governments and businesses to cope with the consequences:-

    Nasa forecast: Which cities will flood as ice melts?

    A forecasting tool reveals which cities will be affected as different portions of the ice sheet melt, say scientists.

    It looks at the Earth’s spin and gravitational effects to predict how water will be “redistributed” globally.

    “This provides, for each city, a picture of which glaciers, ice sheets, [and] ice caps are of specific importance,” say the researchers.

    The tool has been developed by scientists at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.

    Their findings are published in the journal Science Advances.

    Senior scientist Dr Erik Ivins said: “As cities and countries attempt to build plans to mitigate flooding, they have to be thinking about 100 years in the future and they want to assess risk in the same way that insurance companies do.”

    And this new tool provided a way for them to work out which ice sheets they should be “most worried about”.

    It suggests that in London sea-level rise could be significantly affected by changes in the north-western part of the Greenland ice sheet.

    While for New York, the area of concern is the ice sheet’s entire northern and eastern portions.

    This is really getting down to details and allows people to watch the sequence of events affecting them locally!

    Another of the scientists, Dr Eric Larour, said three key processes influenced “the sea-level fingerprint”, the pattern of sea-level change around the world.

    The first is gravity.

    “These [ice sheets] are huge masses that exert an attraction on the ocean,” said Dr Larour.

    “When the ice shrinks, that attraction diminishes- and the sea will move away from that mass.”

    As well as this “push-pull influence” of ice, the ground under a melting ice sheet expands vertically, having previously been compressed by the sheer weight of ice.

    There is evidence of this in raised beaches in areas vacated by the massive icecaps of the last ice-age.
    In some places there is a geological see-saw effect!
    eg. In Scotland there are fossil beaches where the Earth’s “floating” crust, has risen 30 feet above the present sea-level, while on the south coast of England the land is slowly sinking!

    Wobbling planet

    The last factor involves the rotation of the planet itself.

    “You can think of the Earth as a spinning top,” said Dr Larour.

    “As it spins it wobbles and as masses on its surface change, that wobble also changes.

    “That, in turn, redistributes water around the Earth.”

    By computing each of these factors into their calculations, the researchers were able to build their city-specific forecasting tool.

    “We can compute the exact sensitivity – for a specific town – of a sea level to every ice mass in the world,” Dr Larour told BBC News.

    “This gives you an idea, for your own city, of which glaciers, ice sheets and ice caps are of specific importance.”

  3. As #2 explains,
    there is a huge contrast in the USA
    between the earlier work of the scientists of NASA coming to fruition,
    and the obstructive perversity, ignorance, incompetence, and corrupt stupidity,
    of the Trump Administration!

    Europe steps in to cover US shortfall in funding climate science

    French president Emmanuel Macron says that Europe will cover any shortfall in funding for the global climate body, the IPCC.

    The scientific organisation has faced uncertainty since President Donald Trump outlined plans earlier this year to cut US funding.

    The UK government also pledged to double their IPCC contribution.

    Speaking at UN talks in Bonn, Mr Macron said that climate change was the most significant struggle of our times.

    Today saw the start of the high level segment at this meeting of global climate negotiators known as COP23.

    In his statement to negotiators, the French president outlined the need for increased commitments to cut carbon.

    Mr Macron said these decisions must be based on clear scientific information.

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has long been seen as a key element of that system of advice to governments.

    Meeting the challenge

    Their assessment reports, which come out every six or seven years, are critical in informing the public and governments about the causes and impacts of climate change.

    Earlier this year, President Trump proposed ending US funding for this body. Mr Macron said that Europe would now fill the gap.

    “I propose that Europe replace America, and France will meet that challenge,” he told delegates here in Bonn.

    “I would like to see the largest number of EU countries at our side, all together we can compensate for the loss of US funding but I can guarantee from the start of 2018, the IPCC will have all the money that it needs and it will continue to support our decision-making. They will not miss a single euro.”

    The UK also announced that it would help the IPCC financially, with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) announcing a doubling of funding for the organisation.

  4. Also – in contrast to Trumpery:-

    Mr Macron was keen to reinforce the leadership of France and the European Union on climate change.
    He announced that France would close all its coal plants by 2021, putting him at odds with German chancellor Angela Merkel who struggled with this issue as she tried to form a coalition government.

    On renewable energy, Mr Macron outlined plans for projects that would build inter-connections between green energy producers and consumer across the continent.

    “We will encourage and actively participate in funding all the projects we need bilaterally, with Germany and France but also with Ireland, Spain, Italy, the Benelux countries and Portugal,”

    “These international interconnections will be aimed at utilising renewables most efficiently across our continent, throughout the EU,”

    “This will be a guarantee that we will accelerate a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.”

    Earlier UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres had addressed the conference of the parties for the first time in his new role.
    He used the opportunity to call for greater investment in green energy – and an end to subsidies for coal, oil and gas.

    “In 2016, an estimated $825bn were invested in fossil fuels and high emissions sector,” he told the meeting.

    “We must stop making bets on an unsustainable future that will place savings and societies at risk.”

    Scientists involved with the Climate Action Tracker said that while the decision of President Trump to withdraw from Paris would impact US commitments, their analysis showed that on the ground actions in India and China were making a difference in curbing emissions.

  5. Mods if this takes kill the spam binned other, cheers.

    Thanks, Alan.

    Macron is moving and shaking in all the right directions. Taking the Germans to task over coal is excellent news.

    France’s nuclear competence is something still to play on. Were he to incentivise the French Nuclear Industry to look at Thorium MSR and get buy in from Germany and the UK to purchase base load power via HVDC links (givern German popular antipathy to Nuclear within its borders), I think team work would be very sweet. UK Wind, French Th MSR, Germany’s Desertec solar plans revived.

    An additional strategy to mitigate the nonsense of Brexit (slowly dawning on brexiteer MPs) would be the initiation of more transnational infrastructure plans.

    Young Trudeau is a disaster though.

    Must find out if he’s improved in the interim.

  6. phil rimmer #5
    Nov 16, 2017 at 8:16 am

    Young Trudeau is a disaster though.

    Must find out if he’s improved in the interim.

    There do seem to seem to be signs of improvement!

    The UK and Canada have launched a global alliance of 20 countries committed to phasing out coal for energy production.

    Members including France, Finland and Mexico, say they will end the use of coal before 2030.

    Ministers hope to have 50 countries signed up by the time of the next major UN conference in Poland next year.

    However some important coal consuming nations, including China, the US and Germany have not joined the group.

    Reducing global coal use is a formidable challenge, as the fuel produces around 40% of the world’s electricity at present.

    Called the Powering Past Coal Alliance, this new initiative sees countries, regions and provinces, signing up to setting coal phase-out targets and committing to no new investments in coal-fired electricity in their national jurisdictions or abroad.

    The UK has said it will end the generation of electricity from unabated coal by 2025. Unabated means that the coal is burnt without capturing the resulting carbon emissions.

    Already, the move away from coal in the UK has been rapid. Around 40% of electricity was still being generated from coal in 2012 but in April this year the UK had its first full day without coal power in 135 years.

    “We have not sacrificed growth,” said Claire Perry, the UK’s minister for climate change and industry.

    “Since 1990 Britain has cut its emissions buy 42% and our economy has grown by 67%, that’s the best performance in the G7 so this is not something that’s a win-lose, it’s a win-win situation.”

    However many of those who have signed up to the alliance have little or no coal production or consumption, among them Fiji, Niue, and Costa Rica. Many of the richer countries involved have already announced their move away from coal and taken together the grouping only represents about 2.5% of global coal consumption.

    There are also some significant coal consuming countries including Germany and China, absent from the list at present.

    The anti-coal alliance are confident that by the time of the next major UN climate conference in Poland in 2018, there will be closer to 50 countries on board.

    The development has been broadly welcomed by environmental groups.

    With Canada and the UK leading the group, it means that two of the closest allies of the US are moving away from coal at a time when President Trump is talking about a revival for the fuel.

    Many environmental campaigners though, believe that attempts to produce clean coal are essentially efforts to prolong the dominance of the fossil fuel industry.

    “People were worried that this summit would see Trump assaulting the Paris Agreement with his coal lobbyists,” said Mohamed Adow from Christian Aid.

    “But his actions have actually galvanised other nations into action, with a new alliance making it clear that coal’s climate change threat must be taken seriously.

    The bottom line is coal is a dirty, unnecessary, polluting fuel that deserves to remain in a more ignorant and backward era. These countries are showing they understand that.”

  7. Meanwhile on the technology and transport front!

    Tesla has unveiled its first electric articulated lorry, designed to challenge diesel trucks as king of the road.

    The long-anticipated Tesla Semi has a range of 500 miles on a single charge.

    Tesla says the vehicle – known in the US as a semi-trailer truck – will go into production in 2019.

    With Tesla Semi, Mr Musk enters a competitive, demanding market. There are an estimated 3.5 million truck drivers in the US, the vast majority of whom drive diesel-powered engines. Tesla will not be able to compete on diesel’s range, and battery specialists doubt Tesla can produce a powerful enough battery at a reasonable price.

    “A 300-mile-capable battery pack costs about $200,000,” a Carnegie Mellon study concluded.

    “Which is much higher than a diesel-powered semi-truck, which costs about $120,000, on average, for the entire vehicle.”

    Mr Musk said the Tesla Semi would be able to travel 643km (400 miles) after 30 minutes of charge at one of Tesla’s new mega-chargers.

    As for cost, the company said that per mile the Tesla Semi would work out cheaper than a diesel equivalent when fuel and other maintenance is taken into consideration – but did not share the cost of an individual truck.

    Where Tesla believes it can bring an added advantage is with on-board safety and comfort.

    A statement from Tesla boasted that “jackknifing is prevented due to the Semi’s onboard sensors that detect instability and react with positive or negative torque to each wheel while independently actuating all brakes”.

    “The surround cameras aid object detection and minimise blind spots, automatically alerting the driver to safety hazards and obstacles.

    “With Enhanced Autopilot, the Tesla Semi features Automatic Emergency Braking, Automatic Lane Keeping and Lane Departure Warning.”

    Autopilot is Tesla’s autonomous driving function that offers several self-driving features, most importantly guiding the vehicle to stay within the lines on the road, and slowing down in keeping with traffic up ahead.

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