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Carbon Dioxide Emissions Rising Rapidly: Global Carbon Project Estimate

Carbon Dioxide Emissions on Steady Upward Trend

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Carbon Dioxide
In this slow-shutter zoom effect photo, commuters are backed up in traffic during the morning rush hour, in Brussels, emitting Carbon Dioxide. VOA

Carbon dioxide emissions rose in 2019 for the third straight year, according to the latest Global Carbon Project estimate, and do not look set to fall before the end of the next decade.

This is more bad news for United Nations negotiators in Madrid to consider as they aim to hammer out rules for implementing the 2015 Paris international agreement on limiting climate change.

This year’s 0.6% growth in CO2 emissions is slower than the previous two years. Steep declines in coal use in the United States and Europe, combined with weaker global economic growth, were behind the slowdown, the report says.

But slowing growth is not enough. A recent United Nations report said emissions must decline by at least 2.7% per year to keep the planet from overheating.

Emissions look likely to continue in the wrong direction for years to come, according to Stanford University Earth scientist Rob Jackson, chair of the Global Carbon Project, the international research consortium that published the findings Tuesday in Earth System Science Data.

“I am, I have to confess, not very optimistic that in a five-to-year timescale, we’ll see a peak in emissions,” he said. “I hope I’m wrong. I really hope I’m wrong.”

Drought due to carbon dioxide
A man walks past the carcass of sheep that died from the El Nino-related drought in Marodijeex town of southern Hargeysa, in northern Somalia’s semi-autonomous Somaliland region. VOA

Widening gap

The data follow a bleak report from the United Nations on the widening gap between what the world needs to do to prevent the worst impacts of climate change and what countries actually are doing to meet their Paris pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Under the Paris agreement, countries aim to limit global warming to “well under” 2 degrees Celsius and to “pursue efforts” to keep it to 1.5C over pre-industrial times. Currently, the planet has warmed about 1C, raising sea levels and producing more weather extremes, including heat waves, droughts, and heavy storms.

The U.N. Emissions Gap Report finds that the world is headed for 3.4 to 3.9 degrees of warming by 2100. If all the Paris pledges are met, temperatures still will warm by 3.2 degrees, with potentially devastating impacts on food security, water supplies and public health.

The report says countries need to triple their greenhouse gas reductions to reach the 2-degree target and cut them five-fold to reach 1.5 degrees.

That report is based on 2018 data. The new report released Tuesday offers the first look at 2019.

China carbon dioxide
A coal processing plant that is emitting greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. VOA

Coal, oil

The good news is that, compared to last year, the world burned less coal, the most carbon-intensive fuel. Coal emissions were down 0.9%, mostly from sharp falls in the United States and Europe (both about 10%). China and India increased coal emissions (0.8% and 2%, respectively), but less than in recent years.

Oil makes up the second-largest share of greenhouse gas emissions, mainly from transportation. Unlike coal, however, emissions from oil have been growing steadily for decades and show no signs of decreasing. They were up 0.9% this year.

Electric vehicle sales are rising, but not nearly fast enough to offset the growing global fleet of gas and diesel engines.

For example, more than a million electric vehicles were sold last year in China, the world’s largest auto market.

“They led the world in electric vehicle purchases,” Jackson said. “But they still put 20-million-plus new gasoline-based vehicles on their roads.”

Gas Pipeline
Tubes are stored in Sassnitz, Germany, to construct the natural gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 from Russia to Germany. VOA

Natural gas

The decline in coal CO2 emissions also was partly canceled out by rapid growth in natural gas. It’s the fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. More than one-third of the increase in global CO2 over the last decade has come from the rise of natural gas.

Burning natural gas produces 40% less carbon dioxide than coal, and the switch from coal to gas has played a major role in reducing emissions in the United States.

Globally, however, most natural gas is fueling new power plants, not replacing coal, Jackson said.

“We’re not taking fossil fuels offline,” he added. “We’re just adding new production.”

Also Read- Human Health Affected due to Climate Change: WHO

The same pattern is true for renewable energy, he said. While increasing amounts of wind and solar power are coming online, they mainly are meeting demand growth, not replacing fossil fuels.

“Public policies need to place far more importance on directly cutting back the use of fossil fuels,” the report says. (VOA)
 

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Amazon Employees Risk Their Jobs by Criticizing Amazon’s Record on Climate Change

Workers Criticize Amazon on Climate Despite Risk to Jobs

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Amazon employees
Employees walk through a lobby at Amazon's headquarters in Seattle. VOA

Hundreds of employees are openly criticizing Amazon’s record on climate change despite what they say is a company policy that puts their jobs at risk for speaking out.

On Sunday, more than 300 employees of the online retail giant signed their names and job titles to statements on blog post on Medium. The online protest was organized by a group called Amazon Employees For Climate Justice, an advocacy group founded by Amazon workers that earlier this month said the company had sent letters to its members threatening to fire them if they continued to speak to the press.

“It’s our moral responsibility to speak up, and the changes to the communications policy are censoring us from exercising that responsibility,” said Sarah Tracy, a software development engineer at Amazon, in a statement.

Amazon employees at the company logistics centre in Boves
The logo of Amazon is seen at the company logistics centre in Boves, France. VOA

Amazon said that its policy on external communications is not new and is in keeping with other large companies. It said the policy applies to all Amazon employees and is not directed at any specific group.

“While all employees are welcome to engage constructively with any of the many teams inside the company that work on sustainability and other topics, we do enforce our external communications policy and will not allow employees to publicly disparage or misrepresent the company or the hard work of their colleagues who are developing solutions to these hard problems,” according to a spokesperson from the company.

Amazon, which relies on fossil fuels to power the planes, trucks and vans that ship packages all over the world, has an enormous carbon footprint. And its workers have been vocal in criticizing some of the company’s practices.

Also Read- Social Networking Giant Facebook Blames Apple iOS for Bezos’ Phone Hacking

Last year, more than 8,000 staffers signed an open letter to CEO and founder Jeff Bezos demanding that it cut its carbon emissions, end its use of fossil fuels and stop its work with oil companies that use Amazon’s technology to locate fossil fuel deposits.

The company said in a statement that it is passionate about climate change issues and has already pledged to become net zero carbon by 2040 and use 100% renewable energy by 2030. (VOA)