London: India’s carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels increased by 5.2% while China’s decreased by 0.7% in 2015, according to new research which found that global CO2 emissions remained nearly flat for three years in a row.
India contributed 6.3% of all global CO2 emissions, with emissions increasing 5.2%, in 2015 continuing a period of strong growth, according to researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in the UK and the ‘Global Carbon Project’.
Global carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels did not grow in 2015 and are projected to rise only slightly in 2016, marking three years of almost no growth, they said. The projected rise of only 0.2% for 2016 marks a clear break from the rapid emissions growth of 2.3% per year in the decade to 2013, with just 0.7% growth seen in 2014.
The data shows emissions growth remained below 1% despite GDP growth exceeding 3%.
Decreased use of coal in China is the main reason behind the 3-year slowdown. “This third year of almost no growth in emissions is unprecedented at a time of strong economic growth,” professor Corinne Le Quere, director of the Tyndall Centre at UEA who led the data analysis, said. “This is a great help for tackling climate change but it is not enough. Global emissions now need to decrease rapidly, not just stop growing,” Le Quere said.
China—the biggest emitter of CO2 at 29%—saw emissions decrease by 0.7% in 2015, compared to growth of more than 5% per year the previous decade. A further reduction of 0.5% is projected for 2016, though with large uncertainties, researchers said.
The US, the second biggest emitter of CO2 at 15%, also reduced its coal use while increasing its oil and gas consumption and saw emissions decrease 2.6% last year. US emissions are projected to decrease by 1.7% in 2016.
The EU’s 28 member states are the third largest emitter causing 10% of emissions. The EU’s CO2 emissions went up 1.4% in 2015, in contrast with longer term decreases.
Although the break in emissions rise ties in with the pledges by countries to decrease emissions until 2030, it falls short of the reductions needed to limit climate change well below 2°C, researchers said. “If climate negotiators in Marrakesh can build momentum for further cuts in emissions, we could be making a serious start to addressing climate change,” said Le Quere.
The Global Carbon Budget analysis also shows that, in spite of a lack of growth in emissions, the growth in atmospheric CO2 concentration was a record-high in 2015, and could be a record again in 2016 due to weak carbon sinks. “Part of the CO2 emissions are absorbed by the ocean and by trees. With temperatures soaring in 2015 and 2016, less CO2 was absorbed by trees because of the hot and dry conditions related to the El Nino event,” Le Quere said. The study was published in the journal ‘Earth System Science Data’. PTI