Jenna Ladd | March 22, 2018
Global carbon emissions were higher than ever in 2017 according to Global Energy and CO2 Status Report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) based in Paris.
Carbon emissions reached a record 32.5 giggatons last year after remaining stable for the three previous years. This figure can be thought of as putting 170 million additional cars on the road. The spike in carbon emissions has been attributed to two factors. First, global energy demand increased by 2.1 percent last year. This is double the average 0.9 percent increase over the previous five years. About seventy percent of this demand was met by emission producing fossil fuels like oil, natural gas and coal. Second, energy efficiency improvements slowed down during 2017.
“The significant growth in global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in 2017 tells us that current efforts to combat climate change are far from sufficient,” Fatih Birol, IEA’s executive director, said to Reuters. He continued, “For example, there has been a dramatic slowdown in the rate of improvement in global energy efficiency as policy makers have put less focus in this area.”
Scientists say the carbon emissions need to peak soon and then decrease dramatically by 2020 in order to meet the international climate goal of keep average global temperature rise lower than 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels.
Although carbon emissions increased most places, the United States, United Kingdom, Mexico and Japan all saw reductions in carbon emissions. Surprisingly, U.S. carbon emissions fell by 0.5 percent, more than any other country.