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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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Sea Levels Rising Faster & Higher Than Expected: UN Varsity

"When migration is the only way out, it turns into forced relocation, an option that is not attractive to many Marshallese families."

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tides
In addition, with 12 inches of sea level rise, visits would be reduced by about 24 per cent, a figure that could mean hundreds of thousands in lost revenue, as per the researchers.  Pixabay

Sea levels are rising faster and higher than previously expected. Long-term sea level rise will vary greatly depending on emissions, but could reach nearly four meters by 2300 if emissions are not reduced, experts with the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) said on Friday.

Extreme events at the coast, such as hurricanes, tsunamis and floods, that used to occur once a century, will hit many coasts every year by 2050, even under low emission scenarios.

This is especially problematic for low-lying islands, such as the Pacific Islands, which will suffer from disasters and see a loss of livelihood as sea water salinizes the soil and freshwater resources, hampering farming activities.

Some islands could become entirely uninhabitable because there is no more access to fresh water.

“Sea level rise is here to stay. Even in a wonderful, but completely unrealistic zero emission scenario, we will see the consequences of sea level rise,” said Zita Sebesvari, a senior scientist at the UNU-EHS.

“This is because the sea level rise we are experiencing at the moment is the consequence of global warming that started from emissions released decades ago. Because large bodies of water like oceans warm up slowly, changes in sea level lag behind warming of the atmosphere.”

According to the recently released IPCC special report on the oceans and cryosphere in a changing climate, for which Sebesvari was a lead author, by 2050 sea levels will rise by 20 to 40 cm globally.

There will be regional differences, but all parts of the world will be affected.

“After 2050, however, we could see anything from stabilization, if we stick to the emissions goals of the Paris Agreement, to the aforementioned four metres by 2300, if we continue with the current emissions.”

“What the report shows is that both mitigation and adaptation will be necessary. We have to reduce emissions to avoid the more extreme scenarios, but we also have to prepare for the extent of sea level rise that we cannot avoid,” said Sebesvari in a statement.

sea levels
People living in coastal areas are highly affected by economic losses caused by frequent flooding and the impact worsens when the sea level rises, making them more frequent, says a new study. Pixabay

As one of the lowest-lying island nation states in the world, the Republic of the Marshall Islands is particularly vulnerable to the rising sea level and other climate hazards, and it is already experiencing the impacts of climate change, such as salinity intrusion and an increase of extreme weather events.

In the last 10-20 years, more than a third of the Marshallese have moved abroad, mostly to the US.

“Marshallese cite many reasons for moving abroad, predominantly work, healthcare, and education,” said Kees van der Geest, a senior migration expert at UNU-EHS.

“Climate change is a big concern to them, but is not yet seen as a reason to move.”

However, a new study by van der Geest, together with colleagues from the University of Hawaii, does show a correlation between climate impacts and migration rates at the household level: Those who experience more severe climate stress, especially drought and heat, also have higher migration rates.

Also Read: Uber Receives 3,045 Cases of Sexual Assault in U.S. in Year 2018

Despite this finding, the study also shows that most Marshallese fiercely resist the idea that climate change could make their home uninhabitable and they would need to leave their islands someday.

They think that adaptation is possible, and with support of their government and international donors, they are finding ways to adapt. Recently installed fresh water tanks on the islands will ensure the availability of drinking water even with increasing salinity intrusion.

As the world leaders gather for two-week UN climate change conference or COP25, it is countries like the Marshall Islands that urgently depend on solutions and ambitious climate action.

“Adaptation must be considered as the first and preferred option,” concludes van der Geest.

“When migration is the only way out, it turns into forced relocation, an option that is not attractive to many Marshallese families.” (IANS)