Oct 8, 2018 - Energy & Environment

Amid dire warnings, global carbon emissions expected to climb

Carbon dioxide emissions are on track to rise in 2018 for the second straight year following a plateau in 2014-2016, according to the International Energy Agency.

Why it matters: IEA's finding arrived as a United Nations science panel unveiled a major report concluding that large emissions cuts are needed in coming years to hold global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.

By the numbers: According to the UN's analysis, staying within the 1.5°C target — a benchmark for avoiding far more severe consequences than are already occurring — means human-induced CO2 emissions must fall by 45% by 2030 and reach "net zero" by mid-century.

  • The 45% cut is relative to 2010 levels, which in effect means even deeper reductions are needed.

The big picture: Separate analyses in recent months have shown that energy-related CO2 emissions — that is, the vast majority of global CO2 — ticked up again in 2017 after a multi-year plateau.

IEA's new 2018 projection underscores how the global energy system is far, far off track from the gigantic and rapid transformation that the UN's deeply researched analysis calls needed to stay within the 1.5°C target.

  • "The world is not moving towards Paris Agreement goals requiring emissions to peak as soon as possible, but away from them," IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said via Twitter.

The bottom line: As Axios' Andrew Freedman wrote, global warming will have far more severe consequences if temperatures are allowed to creep past 1.5°C, or 2.7°F, of warming, scientists concluded in the UN analysis.

They noted that there are already deadly impacts from the 1°C, or 1.8°F, of warming so far — including more severe and longer lasting heat waves, more heavy precipitation events, and ocean warming that is killing many of the planet's coral reefs.

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