New Data: Global Carbon Pollution Growing Again

November 13, 2017

After 3 years of flat CO2 output globally, preliminary data indicate emissions are growing again.

The Conversation:

Global greenhouse emissions from fossil fuels and industry are on track to grow by 2% in 2017, reaching a new record high of 37 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide, according to the 2017 Global Carbon Budget, released today.

The rise follows a remarkable three-year period during which global CO₂ emissions barely grew, despite strong global economic growth.

But this year’s figures suggest that the keenly anticipated global peak in emissions – after which greenhouse emissions would ultimately begin to decline – has yet to arrive.

The Global Carbon Budget, now in its 12th year, brings together scientists and climate data from around the world to develop the most complete picture available of global greenhouse gas emissions.

In a series of threepapers, the Global Carbon Project’s 2017 report card assesses changes in Earth’s sources and sinks of CO₂, both natural and human-induced. All excess CO₂ remaining in the atmosphere leads to global warming.

We believe society is unlikely to return to the high emissions growth rates of recent decades, given continued improvements in energy efficiency and rapid growth in low-carbon energies. Nevertheless, our results are a reminder that there is no room for complacency if we are to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, which calls for temperatures to be stabilised at “well below 2℃ above pre-industrial levels”. This requires net zero global emissions soon after 2050.


Carbon Brief:

The figure below shows global CO2 emissions from fossil fuels, divided into emissions from China (red shading), India (yellow), the US (bright blue), EU (dark blue) and the remainder of the world (grey). After a rapid increase in global emissions of around 3% per year between 2000 and 2013, emissions only grew by 0.4% per year between 2013 and 2016.


Click for larger

Annual CO2 emissions from fossil fuels by major country and rest of world from 1959-2017, in gigatons CO2 per year (GtCO2). Note that 2017 numbers are preliminary estimates. Data from the Global Carbon Project and available here. Chart by Carbon Brief using Highcharts.

Much of the slowdown in the growth of global emissions in recent years has been driven by a combination of reductions in the US and China, as well as relatively little growth in emissions in other countries. This changed in 2017, with little-to-no reductions in US emissions and a sizeable increase in Chinese emissions.

As 2017 is not yet over – and somewhat limited data is available – these projections are still subject to large uncertainties. The global estimate of a 2% increase in emissions could be as low as 0.8% or as high as 3%, say the researchers. The GCP will publish more complete 2017 numbers in early 2018 when all the data is available.


Hindustan Times:

New Delhi’s air quality deteriorated on Monday morning, with poor visibility leading to cancellation of eight trains. A thick cloud of toxic smog 10 times the recommended limit enveloped the national capital, as government officials struggled to tackle a public health crisis that is well into its second week.

Delhi’s air quality index (AQI) on Monday was 468. The national capital saw the season’s worst air quality at 486 on November 9. The air quality improved on Friday and Saturday but deteriorated on Sunday. For the last six days, the air quality has remained in the “severe” zone across the National Capital Region, prompting the Indian Medical Association to declare a health emergency.

Washington Post:

“The 2017 emissions data make it crystal clear that urgent and very serious emissions reductions are needed to stop global warming below 2° C, as was unanimously agreed in Paris,” Stefan Rahmstorf, a climate scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, said in an email. Rahmstorf was not involved with the current work.

Rahmstorf said there are currently about 600 billion remaining tons of carbon dioxide that can be emitted if the world is to have a good chance of keeping warming considerably below 2 degrees Celsius, and with some 40 billion tons of emissions each year, that leaves just 15 years.

“If we start to ramp down emissions from now on we can stretch this budget to last us about 30 years,” he said. “With every year that we wait we will have to stop using fossil energy even earlier.”


29 Responses to “New Data: Global Carbon Pollution Growing Again”

  1. sheilach2 Says:

    As sickeningly usual, no mention of OVERPOPULATION & POPULATION GROWTH!
    As long as we continue to IGNORE population growth, there is no hope of reducing our carbon emissions, they will continue to RISE!

    However there is “hope” of a sort, oil is becoming too difficult & expensive to extract, those frackers that have kept “production” flat or growing have been losing money for years, this cannot continue & many have gone bankrupt with more to follow.
    Conventional oil peaked in 2005 & has been in decline ever since, when fracking crashes, we will feel the pain as our access to oil declines.

    Population growth will of course end then collapse because of resource depletion & like all other animals that overshoot the carrying capasity of their environment, our numbers will fall, hard, back to perhaps only 500 million.

    We will then be pretty much “carbon free” & totally renewable but without those high tech “renewables” that won’t exist without oil.

    • indy222 Says:

      Well, hopefully we can find the will and the way to come down more gracefully to 500 million – 1 billion eventually. That would be a good goal. I just hope it’s not “Mad Max”, “The Book of Eli” and “The Road” all rolled into one. I tentatively thinking it won’t be like that, but….. it’s not impossible, at our current rate of acceleration in delusion.

    • webej Says:

      It’s not the population, it’s Americans. Americans disproportionately use resources and energy. 300 million Americans consume more than the 4 billion other people, so if we have to cull, it seems obvious where the effect would be greatest.

      • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

        “300 million Americans consume more than the 4 billion other people, so if we have to cull, it seems obvious where the effect would be greatest.”

        So many cofactors to the dynamic:
        – American consumption counts for much of China, et al emissions
        – Americans are having fewer babies
        – other countries are increasing per capita consumption
        – other countries are having more babies
        – American policies are hampering efforts to spread birth control
        – America has a presidential administration that is going backwards

    • andrewfez Says:

      I would imagine the frackers will keep going as long as there is demand for fuel. They’ll just use the government (they’ve captured) to subsidize their operations. The new generation of fracking tech has much, much lower break-even costs than the old $70/barrel stuff also. China will be investing 83 billion in WV for shale development and storage. And i think investors are desperate to invest in anything and are willing to take on more risk than they traditionally have: 1) wealth is concentrating at the top which is slowing the economy making it harder to invest broadly and fundamentally in such (P/E’s are higher than average); 2) resource depletion could be or will be playing a role in economic sluggishness again making it difficult to find good investments. So I would say it doesn’t matter that the entire process is a net negative investment; as long as someone at the top is making money off of it, it will continue.

      EV’s are the way to stop the madness.

      • sheilach2 Says:

        “EV’s are the way to stop the madness”?
        I wish that were true but it’s not, there won’t be enough ENERGY or resources to replace ICE with EV & we won’t be able to generate enough ELECTRICITY to charge all those EV’s either.
        What everyone is overlooking is that OIL only generates a minor amount of our electricity, most of that oil is refined into FUEL for our transportation system, for raw materials for manufacturing & for the energy needed by our agricultural system.
        Other raw materials from fossil resources are used to produce fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, plastics, resins, the energy needed to smelt metals cannot be produced with solar panels or wind turbines as they are weak, erratic, unreliable sources of only electricity & “renewables” don’t produce any of the essential raw materials we need.
        I can see small EV’s being used by wealthy people in large cities to reduce pollution but they cannot power our trucking system as their batteries would take up the space & the weight used for cargo, they would be too expensive, too short range & carry almost no cargo thanks to those huge batteries, EV trucks won’t happen.

        Since they cannot replace our long haul trucks, when the trucks stop running for lack of OIL, your grocery shelfs will quickly empty never to be refilled.

        Your grocery shelfs will also empty because without enough OIL to power our farm machinery, produce fertilizers & mine fertilizers from all over the planet, grocery shelfs won’t have much brought to them even if some trucks are running.
        We cannot feed 7.5 billion humans without our high energy, oil dependent agriculture. It will take YEARS to enrich our poor, depleted, poisoned soils to grow more food organically & by then, most of us will have died off.
        FOOD will be far more important to us than EV’s that few can afford.

        We WILL get off oil when they can no longer afford to access it & not before because we are too dependent upon these resources to survive to just “keep it in the ground”.
        If you don’t mind having billions of people die of starvation, disease & war, keep it in the ground, that’s going to happen anyhow no matter what you choose to do or not do, most of us are doomed & we did it to ourselves.

        • andrewfez Says:

          Na man – EV’s won’t break the electric grid. You could make EV’s 10% of all inventory on the road tomorrow and there is enough capacity to handle that. A lot of energy is wasted at night, when lots of people would be charging, with coal plants burning but not spinning because they can’t physically power up and down that quick (or in the future wind turbines spinning with nowhere to dump the load). But anyway, KS, TX and SD have enough wind reserves to power the US. We also have enough sun reserves to power us as well. U of Delaware did a study a while back where they could power the PMJ grid (east coast) with wind, solar, and EV batteries 90-99% of the time at costs similar to today’s costs using a 3x wind overbuild with respect to demand. That’s the thing about adding lots of EV’s to the grid – you get storage for variable sources of power – Amory Lovins calls it integrative design.

          My plug-in hybrid was 21k after tax breaks. The Volts around here went on sale when my car first hit the market to compete and are also 21k after tax breaks. The average price paid for a new car is something over 30k. Leafs are also affordable right now.

          As far as trucking goes, Nikola, Cummins, and Tesla are figuring out solutions.

          Via Motors will spearhead light duty trucks and vans.

          Food will have to be more local and more along the lines of how the Dutch are doing things.

          Thermal solar is starting to reach temp levels seen in fossil burning.

          Oil isn’t hurting anyone when it’s not being burned; make all the IV bags you want with it.

          The technical solutions are already known. It’s just a matter of getting everyone on board and implementing them.

          • J4Zonian Says:

            Yeah, sheilach was wrong about, well, pretty much everything. Here’s one example of his or her foolishness: The Odeillo furnace has been operating since 1970 in the French Pyrenees. It’s about 50 meters (160 feet) tall and wide and reaches 3600°C, or more than 6,000°F, in a few seconds. There are no temperatures reachable by fossil fuels that aren’t reachable with renewables, now. While there are some difficulties now with converting parts of our industrial system to renewables (concrete and steel, oceanic transport, petrochemicals…) solutions for all of those are either available or being worked on and are probably less than a decade away, maybe only a couple of years. Half the energy of both concrete and Aluminum has been made for decades in Iceland and the US Pacific Northwest, because renewable power there (geothermal and hydro, respectively) is cheap and dependable. Rail, including high speed rail, sail and sail-assisted and electric ships, Roman concrete, adobe and cob construction, and many other solutions headed by conservation can supplant those.

            Besides the telling spelling/grammar mistakes, etc. (carelessness or fundamental ignorance?) sheilach’s posts are full of boggling failures of logic and ridiculous misconceptions s/he could only have gotten by having way too many right wing denying delayalist and anti-renewable blogs read to him or her. But his or her psychological vulnerability has given those weed ideas fertile soil. Recovery is unlikely.

            I do have to disagree with one thing you wrote: plastic has turned out to be a plague on the planet, and may cause the extinction of hundreds, even thousands of species. Eventually, the planet will probably get used to it (evolve organisms to digest and recycle it) but that’s likely to take millions of years at least. While we’re doing all those other things to reduce GHGs we should invent some giant electric vacuum ships to cruise the gyres and suck up all the plastic to be recycled as roads or sweaters or something.

          • andrewfez Says:

            Yeah I guess we are eating plastic when we eat fish, and drinking it from the tap and whatnot. I have this laundry soap where the bottle is made out of recycled paper and the inside just has a small plastic lining to it; works okay; 66% less plastic than a normal container. We need to step up our game on biodegradable plastic also.

          • J4Zonian Says:

            Edit to previous reply

            I’m not sure why this happens here; parts seem to get cut out when I paste in my posts from other programs. It doesn’t happen on any other site…. mystifying.

            The statement “Half the energy of both concrete and…” was truncated. Here’s the whole thing:

            “Half the energy of both concrete and steel production is simple heating, transport, and other energy that can be easily supplied by renewables. That leaves only about 5% of global emissions, which can be eliminated with new processes already being worked on.”

    • J4Zonian Says:

      Explain that, please. Why will solar PV, 24/7 solar thermal, onshore and offshore wind, geothermal, tidal, and other renewable energies not exist without oil?

      You know what energy source was built without oil?

      Also, hydro, wind, biomass…

      • sheilach2 Says:

        Oil was made from biomass then cooked for millions of years underground into the petroleum we burn today, trying to copy that with biomass would take us more energy then what we could get from it, the earth did it for free.

        Biomass is not “waste”, it’s a valuable soil nutrient that should be returned to the earth.
        As for hydro, wind & solar, their energy is captured with high tech, high energy generators & without the fossil resources raw material & ENERGY they wouldn’t exist.
        China has horrible pollution because that’s where most of our solar panels & wind turbines are being made & that burns a lot of fossil resources like COAL, NATURAL GAS & OIL & OIL provides essential raw materials without which your solar panels & wind turbines wouldn’t exist & that’s not counting the ENERGY needed to transport them across the ocean burning dirty bunker fuel, then they have to be set up & transported again, burning dirty OIL to the site where they will be installed.
        Take a look at this site to see just how much machinery, ENERGY & raw materials are needed to manufacture “renewables”.

        Americans are indeed horribly wasteful of energy. Where I live it seems everyone drives HUGE 4X4 TRUCKS & SUV’S, very few small fuel efficient cars here like my small two seat, two door, 1991 Honda civic that gets over 30mpg.

        I can’t afford to buy a new EV, they are too expensive, it cost too much to install a charging station & there aren’t any EV charging stations near here so I couldn’t drive very far & even worse, I’ve read that it takes as much or more energy to build a EV as it does a ICE then there are the BATTERIES that will have to be replaced for thousands of dollars but also I don’t have to buy any fuel while on batteries either so I wonder how that would ballence out?

        I try to drive as little as possible, I combine my trips when I do drive & unlike most of my generation, I didn’t have any children by choice as I recognise we have too many people, especially WASTEFUL AMERICANS!
        My grandmother use to drive me NUTS by leaving open the windows with the AC on, she got mad when I informed her that little AC unit couldn’t cool down the entire Rogue valley & she also would use one paper wipe for her nose itch then throw the clean wipe away, she would quickly fill up waste baskets with them!

        I use hand tools for most of my yard work yealding only to an electric hedge trimmer, everything else is done with a shovel, hoe, scythe, hand saw, pole lopper, clippers, ax, hatchets, log splitter, loppers, rake & brooms.

        I HATE those “dirt blowers” everyone uses here, GET A BROOM!

        • J4Zonian Says:

          Sorry but you put in a bunch of extraneous elementary stuff and nonsense, then restated the proposition I was asking you to prove, “As for hydro, wind & solar, their energy is captured with high tech, high energy generators & without the fossil resources raw material & ENERGY they wouldn’t exist.”

          and then piled on a bunch of absolute nonsense, most of which is false and all of which is irrelevant.

          Please answer the original question.

          Obviously, we can have a society powered by 100% renewable energy–solar PV and concentrating or solar thermal, solar heating and cooling, wind electricity, hydroelectricity, geothermal heat and electricity, etc. If you don’t think so, show why. Why it’s not true, that is, not why you don’t think so. I suspect I know why you don’t think so but your compound mental health/Dunning-Kruger problem is an entirely different conversation. Maybe we’ll be having that after you reply.

          I’m trying to give you the benefit of the doubt here instead of just dismissing you as a complete idiot. Help me out and say something intelligent as you anser the question.

    • Gingerbaker Says:

      “As sickeningly usual, no mention of OVERPOPULATION & POPULATION GROWTH!”

      Yup. Because it is irrelevant to the question. And a diversion from a solution.

      “As long as we continue to IGNORE population growth, there is no hope of reducing our carbon emissions, they will continue to RISE!”

      That is absurd. Emissions will decrease as we…….

      (wait for it)……………

      … stop burning fossil fuels. You know fossil fuels? They are the things which we can replace forever with cheaper alternatives. And yet, they are the things YOU KEEP SAYING (just thought I would shout a tad, like you are always doing) we can never replace. (!!??!!)

      Do you really think anyone here will listen to word you say when you vomit such inanities?

      • sheilach2 Says:

        So you believe without any evidence that we can dump FF & have “renewables” replace all they do? ARE YOU A MORON?
        Those “renewables” so popular here that the idiots believe we can just stop using FF & all will be well!
        Too bad that’s not true Bubba or is it “Joe six pack”?

        All that those “renewables” produce is electricity & unless I’m mistaken in my knowledge of biology, we cannot eat electricity & I don’t think you can either.

        I see there is no point in me wasting my time here with such ignorant MORONS, so go ahead & tout the wonders of “renewables”, they might keep your lights on but as I have repeated here too often, you will still end up starving to death because those “renewables” cannot fertilize, protect, transport or grow our FOOD & I think even you like to EAT!
        And whether you want to believe it or not, mostly not, population IS related to the rise in CO2, the more humans we have the greater the demand for OIL, COAL & NATURAL GAS.
        Now you can go back to sucking on your DUMMY!

        • J4Zonian Says:

          We can provide all the energy humanity needs with clean safe renewable energy.

          You seem not to like that fact, but you’ve done nothing but repeat fallacies. You’ve apparently made no effort to learn anything beyond what you must be getting from right wing extremist climate denying and anti-renewable sites. You offer no evidence at all that what you say isn’t complete nonsense. No supporting studies or learned opinions–or for that matter even unlearned opinions. Your illogic is impeccable and your lack of knowledge of every subject you write about is perfect–unblemished by exception or single fact or clue. You have absolutely no credibility here–or, I imagine, anywhere else except possibly sites like Dumbart where they’ll accept any fracking fluid as true, as long as it’s right wing fracking fluid.

          All of which leads me to wonder why in the world you’re doing this. Simple trolling? Irresistible compulsion as a symptom of some mental illness? If you have any awareness please tell us.

          I think it’s obvious you’re retreating because you have no answers to the questions you’re being asked to prove you’re not simply lying, mistaken or ill or some combination of them. If you’re really going away permanently, as you imply, thank you and good riddance. But I don’t think we’re that lucky; I think as soon as you can’t restrain yourself any more, or believe we’ve forgotten where we left this you’ll be back with more coal sludge to sell. That’s unfortunate, but I’ll make a note and we can continue with the interrogation as soon as you show up again. While you’re away, think about the answer you’ll need if you come back.

          Do you have any credible evidence at all that the following is not true?

          We can provide all the energy humanity needs with clean safe renewable energy sources and storage.

  2. indy222 Says:

    Oil experts agree – the “fracking miracle” is a nightmare. You get a big pulse of “juice”, and then it all plays out within a year or two and you’d better have drilled already somewhere else if you want to keep the game going.

    And, right – population control is a verboten subject.

    • Jerry Falwel Says:

      It is not in China, one of the worlds polluters, Yes they have backed off the one women one child policy but they still have goals and a program to limit population as the party knows that China will become to small to feed its population unless something is done.

      • Gingerbaker Says:


        China will become “too small” to feed its population?

        That would be its new smaller population size, right? WTF are you going on about? You will say virtually anything to derail a conversation, won’t you?

        That’s because you are a big fat boring TROLL. Who is b-or-i-n-g. And a troll.

    • J4Zonian Says:

      And yet every time anything ecological is discussed anywhere at any time in any forum, there’s some yahoo not only talking about population, but denying that population is talked about everywhere. It’s like the “supposedly non-conservative media” frame. The reason everyone knows about it is that it’s constantly being repeated, over and over and over and over and over, in the conservative media, which includes almost all media now.

      Thousands upon thousands of articles and some books and probably some documentaries I ignored were produced when we reached 7 billion. Since then the subject has never once been out of media and comment sections for 2 days in a row.

      Maybe people in general are responding to the fact that population growth rates are half what they were, and still rapidly declining; that population itself will almost certainly peak and decline within 35 years; that the best, most proven ways to make that happen are following the progressive agenda and ensuring equality, empowerment and education for all, especially women, and security in old age, sickness and hard times as well as free access to contraception and all family planning services.

      And maybe people already know that this crisis is overwhelmingly caused by the richest few percent of people. They emit most of the GHGs, eat most of the meat, drive the most wasteful cars the most, use the most fish for their pets and livestock and the most fossil fuel fertilizer and pesticide for their livestock feed and consume and waste many more times of almost every resource–both individually but even more with their industry and institutions. (If it were a country, the US military, mostly there now as corporate profit protection service, corporate income generator and fossil fuel region conqueror, would be 34th in terms of fossil fuel consumption.) Maybe people who talk about population a few times and then have had enough, understand that what drives growth is inequality, and then maybe they focus on that so they’re actually saying and doing something useful.

      I’m not saying any of that for sure (about what motivates people here) I’m just saying maybe. Maybe people have more sense than you’re giving them credit for. And if there were such a thing as irony, wouldn’t that be ironic, that people have more sense than inequality- and consumption deniers give them credit for?

      • Gingerbaker Says:

        Bring up population during a discussion of renewable energy is a favorite tactic of denier trolls. Thank you for pointing out the troll’s attempt at derailing the commentary.

    • Jerry Falwel Says:

      You really should read up on the subject. Fracking has been done for many decades, the current fracking nonsense by the left is about 70 years to late. Fracking means you break up the underground rock with water pressure . the chemicals help dissolve the oil trapped within and or help dissolve the bonds holding the sandstone together to make it easier to break the rock. The amount of rock you break up is pretty small in comparison to the total formation so you have to continue extending the well length or drill a new well, Since new wells are pretty expensive the preferred technique is to continue the well, many wells are drilled full length and than back fractured as the front fracture becomes depleted as that is generally cheaper. None of the water or chemicals come anywhere near drinking water as the wells are thousands of feet down in rock that contains salt water if it is anyway near not impenetrable.

      • J4Zonian Says:

        You really should read up on the subj–no never mind that, there’s no point until a few years of psychotherapy and maybe some heavy duty anti-psychotic drugs get you back in touch with reality.

        The fracking industry as it exists was created in the first days of the Cheney Administration, aka the Bush the Lesser admin. At Cheney’s secret meetings with officers of the fossil industry, fracking was illegally exempted from every environmental protection law that would have applied (and prevented it), thus enlarging its externalities and allowing it to exist because of our monstrously skewed capitalist economics. Since then, fracking, especially for gas has exploded, so to speak. The destructive boom and bust cycles, the contamination of groundwater that yes, is happening, the increase in earthquakes, the methane leaks that make it as bad as coal for climate catastrophe, (your denial psychosis aside), the slowing of adoption of clean safe resilient renewable energy because so much of the actual cost of fracking is externalized allowing gas and oil to be competitive with energies that are actually much cheaper, the increase in inequality and the encouragement it offers to the wealthy and powerful oiligarchs, and all its other harm mean fracking may turn out to be one of the most destructive decisions in human history.

  3. indy222 Says:

    China’s leading in 2% rise in CO2. As I commented some time ago, it’s just China’s boom/bust 5-yr plan cycles. Took some time to try and digest the overbuilding (think “Ghost Cities”) and now they’re back on track. Economic Growth is Priority #1. Lowering emissions would be nice…. but no way will it come at the expense of their global leadership and eventual domination goals.

    The Thermodynamics of Civilization makes this news pretty unsurprising.

  4. Jerry Falwel Says: shows no pause in global CO2 rise. That means something. 1) the estimates of total carbon output by man are wrong which is likely or 2) there is not a direct relationship between mans CO2 output and atmospheric levels which puts the whole claim man is warming the world into the trash bin of history.

    • Gingerbaker Says:

      Jesus Christ you are a moron. Of course [CO2] levels are rising – we are still burning fossil fuels like crazy.

      But this post is about *emissions*, not levels.

      And not one of your frighteningly sloppy and supposedly meaningful conclusions makes any fracking sense whatsoever.

      Yet another demonstration that you simply can not think logically or scientifically. In the interests of self-preservation, you would do well to simply STFU already. That’s me, doing you a favor, btw.

  5. andrewfez Says:

    Coal demand was up in the EU as of recent also as such created a bit of a respite for the US miners getting smashed from renewables, gas, and efficiency.

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