Global emissions of carbon dioxide are slowing somewhat from the rapid pace of the last decade, new figures show, but growth in coal burning continues to outstrip the growth in other forms of energy, and experts said the world remains far from meeting international goals on climate change.
Scientists compiling the numbers said it was unclear whether the slowdown in the growth of emissions might represent the beginnings of a permanent shift. One-time factors in China, including the opening of several large new dams to supply electricity, played a substantial role, as did slower economic growth there.
The new figures were released late Monday by the Global Carbon Project, which tracks emissions. They showed that carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels and the production of cement rose by 2.1 percent in 2012, compared with 2011, and they are projected to rise by a similar amount in 2013. Since 2000, growth in such emissions had been running more than 3 percent a year, on average.
The countries of the world have set a goal of limiting global warming to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, or 2 degrees Celsius, above the preindustrial level. But that will require emissions to peak and begin to decline toward a low level by 2050.
“At the moment, it’s very hard to see any evidence that we’re going to peak any time soon,” Peters said.