Madrid, 4 Dec 2019 (AFP) – Warnings pile up on the sidelines of the COP25 in Madrid: Fossil-based CO2 emissions continue to rise worldwide in 2019, despite declining coal use, offset by oil and above all to natural gas.
According to the Global Carbon Project (GCP) balance, emissions advanced 0.6% in 2019, representing an "increase in CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere" that fuel climate change.
"Current policies are clearly insufficient to reverse global emissions trends," warned climatologist Corinne Le Queré at a news conference in Madrid, where the international community is called to do more to reduce emissions.
"The urgency to act remains intact," he said.
At the present rate, the planet's temperature may rise to 4 ° C or 5 ° C by the end of the century compared to the preindustrial era, while the Paris Agreement provides for limiting warming below 2 ° C and preferably 1.5 ° C.
This last objective could be achieved by reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 7.6% per year between 2020 and 2030, according to a UN Environment Program (UNEP) calculation.
But not even CO2 seems to reach the limit. "I hope to do so for the next five years, but it is not yet visible," acknowledged Pierre Friedlingstein of the British University of Exeter.
Global fossil-based CO2 emissions (fuels, industry and cement) were nearly two-thirds higher in 2019 compared to 1990. Their growth has been slow since 2010, following the 2008 economic crisis, but has risen again in 2017 (+1 , 5%) and 2018 (+ 2.1%).
The smaller increase in 2019 is due to "a number of factors, including slowing economic growth, weather conditions and a substantial drop in coal use in the United States and Europe," according to Le Queré.
– Natural gas, a bad solution? – Coal use in the United States, the second world emitter, as well as in the EU, decreased by 10% in both regions in 2019, which contributed to "reducing emissions" from this fuel worldwide, according to a GCP statement. .
Coal remains a widespread energy in China and the GCP sees no sign that the world's first emitter is planning to give it up.
Coal's setback has been offset in the world by increased use of oil and above all natural gas. "For the same amount of energy, natural gas emits less CO2 than coal," but as its use increases, "so do CO2 emissions," says Philippe Ciais, researcher at the LSCE-Pierre Pierre Laplace Institute in France.
"We cannot continue burning natural gas until the end of the century, otherwise we will not respect the Paris Agreement," he said.
However, the International Energy Agency defends natural gas as a transitional energy and foresees a 10% increase in its consumption by the end of the 2020s.
According to the GCP, in India, the progression of CO2 emissions has slowed due to weak economic growth.
Soils, when they are no longer occupied by forests – which retain carbon – to plantations, are a source of CO2 emissions, but they are more difficult to measure and "there is no clear trend in the last decade," according to the GCP.
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