Enlarge (credit: Global Carbon Project 2017)
For the last few years, global carbon dioxide emissions have done something surprising—they haven’t really gone up.
The most optimistic among us may have felt there was a change in the wind, but it was too early to call this the peak of our emissions.
And in fact it wasn’t, as the preliminary analysis for 2017 shows that emissions will once again tick upward.
Every year, a huge group of researchers publishes an analysis of the global carbon cycle, projecting the final tally for human emissions for the year based on data through September.
At the same time, they make any necessary revisions to the numbers for previous years, based on new data or improved estimates.
The team estimates not just the emissions from burning fossil fuels and other industrial activities, but from the other terms in the global equation, too.
That includes the emissions caused by human land use changes (like deforestation) and the carbon absorbed and released by Earth’s land ecosystems and oceans.
Last year’s global human emissions projection for 2016, an increase of just 0.2 percent, held up when the final numbers came in.
But the projection for 2017 shows an increase of 2.0 percent—a disappointing bump.
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