Global carbon dioxide emissions are back on the rise for the first time in three years. On Tuesday, China's top climate official said that preparations for a nationwide emissions trading scheme were “basically complete” but he stopped short of giving a date for its launch and warned of the dangers of “excessive investment”.
Illustrating that while the world has taken some crucial steps to curb greenhouse gas emissions, the work is far from over.
Earlier, Beijing announced two years ago that 2017 would be the year in which it will roll out a national carbon trading scheme that experts believe will become the largest of its type, eclipsing that of the EU.
“The work to create a national carbon market has won successes and the whole process is going well,” Mr Xie said in a speech. “Preparations for the carbon market are basically complete and after approval, it can go ahead.”
Chinese officials and experts in Bonn, who declined to be identified, said that Beijing may miss its original target of launching the scheme this year but may be ready for the inauguration early next year.
According to figures released on Monday by the Global Carbon Project during this year’s United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Bonn, Germany, industrial emissions of carbon dioxide are set to increase this year — reversing the previous trend of flat-lining emissions driven largely by the declining use of coal in China.
“Global carbon dioxide emissions appear to be going up strongly once again after a three-year stable period,” Corinne Le Quéré, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia, and lead researcher for the Global Carbon Budget, said in a press statement. “This is very disappointing.”
“The federal government can slow the development of renewables and low-carbon technologies, but it can’t stop it,” Robert Jackson, a co-author of this year’s Global Carbon Budget and a professor in Earth system science at Stanford University, said in a press statement. “That transition is being driven by the low cost of new renewable infrastructure, and it’s being driven by new consumer preferences.”
The Donald Trump administration has also lifted a series of environmental regulations on the coal industry — from rules limiting the amount of waste that companies can dump into rivers to the Clean Power Plan, which would have regulated carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.
“This year we have seen how climate change can amplify the impacts of hurricanes with stronger downpours of rain, higher sea levels and warmer ocean conditions favouring more powerful storms. This is a window into the future,” Le Quéré said. “We need to reach a peak in global emissions in the next few years and drive emissions down rapidly afterwards to address climate change and limit its impacts.”
But as the Trump administration continues to push fossil fuel use at home and abroad, the Global Carbon Budget’s scientists warn that the world is running out of time to tackle climate change.