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Global carbon emissions will hit a record high once again in 2019, despite climate scientists warning louder than ever of impending environmental disaster, according to a study published Wednesday.
The report, from a consortium of researchers as part of the annual Global Carbon Budget, found countries around the world will spew more than 40.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the air by the end of 2019, up about 0.6% from last year. The rise was spurred in part by increased output in China and India (though emissions in those countries were lower than expected) and comes despite a series of bleak reports released in recent months urging a dramatic cutback of carbon emissions to avoid the worst effects of climate change.
But the research also included a few silver linings: The year-over-year increase in 2019 will be much slower than past changes: In 2017, there was a 1.5% rise in emissions from the previous year, and in 2018 the number was 2.1%. Researchers also found a surprising decline in the use of coal around the world — by far the greatest emitter of carbon — due to a rise in the use of natural gas and a smaller uptick in renewable energy.
“The science is clear, CO₂ emissions need to decrease to net zero globally to stop further significant warming of the planet,” Pierre Friedlingstein, a professor at the University of Exeter and the report’s lead researcher, said in a statement. The research was published simultaneously in three leading academic journals.
The stark figures come at a time when scientists and world leaders have increasingly warned about the dire state of the planet’s reliance on fossil fuels. Diplomats from more than 190 nations are gathering in Madrid this week to hammer out the final details of the landmark Paris climate agreement.
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