Morocco (AP) — Global temperatures are soaring toward a record high this
year, the U.N. weather agency said Monday, while another report showed
emissions of a key global warming gas have flattened out in the past three
injected a mix of gloom and hope at U.N. climate talks in Marrakech this
Another record. The high temperatures we saw in 2015 are set to be beaten
in 2016," said Petteri Taalas, the head of the World Meteorological
data through October showed world temperatures, boosted by the El Nino
phenomenon, are 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.2 degrees Fahrenheit) above
close to the limit set by the global climate agreement adopted in Paris
last year. It calls for limiting the temperature rise since the industrial
revolution to 2 degrees C or even 1.5 degrees C.
WMO said 16 of
the 17 hottest years have occurred this century. The only exception was
1998, which was also an El Nino year.
Taalas said parts
of Arctic Russia saw temperatures soaring 6-7 degrees C above average. "We
are used to measuring temperature records in fractions of a degree, and so
this is different," he said.
groups and climate scientists said the report underscores the need to
quickly reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases
blamed for warming the planet.
released Monday delivered some positive news, showing global CO2 emissions
have flattened out in the past three years. However, the authors of the
study cautioned it's unclear whether the slowdown, mainly caused by
declining coal use in China, is a permanent trend.
"It is far too
early to proclaim we have reached a peak," said co-author Glen Peters, a
senior researcher at the Center for International Climate and
Environmental Research in Oslo.
published in the journal Earth System Science Data, says global CO2
emissions from fossil fuels and industry are projected to grow just 0.2
percent this year.
That would mean
emissions have leveled off at about 36 billion metric tons in the past
three years even though the world economy has expanded, suggesting the
historical bonds between economic gains and emissions growth may have been
"This could be
the turning point we have hoped for," said David Ray, a professor of
carbon management at the University of Edinburgh, who was not involved
with the study. "To tackle climate change those bonds must be broken and
here we have the first signs that they are at least starting to loosen."
were down 0.7 percent in 2015 and are projected to fall 0.5 percent in
2016, the researchers said, though noting that Chinese energy statistics
have been plagued by inconsistencies.
Peters said it's
unclear whether the Chinese slowdown was due to a restructuring of its
economy or a sign of economic instability, but the unexpected emissions
reduction "give us hope that the world's biggest emitter can deliver much
more ambitious emission reductions."
accounts for almost 30 percent of global carbon pollution, pledged to peak
its emissions around 2030 as part of the climate pact adopted in Paris
last year. Many analysts say China's peak is likely to come much earlier —
and may already have occurred.
"A few more years
of data is needed to confirm this," said Bill Hare of Climate Analytics.
Even if China's
emissions have stabilized, growth in India and other developing countries
could push global CO2 levels higher again. India's emissions rose 5
percent in 2015, the study said.
The election of
Donald Trump as president of the United States — the world's No. 2 carbon
polluter — could also have an impact.
fell 2.6 percent last year and are projected to drop 1.7 percent this
year, as natural gas and renewables displace coal in power generation, the
study showed. But it's unclear whether those reductions will continue
under Trump, who has pledged to roll back the Obama administration's
environmental policies, including the Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon
pollution from power plants.
envoy, Jonathan Pershing, said Monday that China and other countries would
move forward on climate action even if the U.S. reverses course under
"I'm hearing the
same from the Europeans," he said. "I'm hearing the same from the
Brazilians. I'm hearing the same from Mexico, and from Canada, and from
smaller nations like Costa Rica and from Colombia."
stressed that it's not enough for global emissions to stabilize, saying
they need to drop toward zero for the world to meet the goals of the Paris
reductions pledged by the nations under the Paris Agreement are not
sufficient to achieve this," said climate scientist Chris Rapley of
University College London.