Representatives of 190 nations gather this week to review progress at the annual United Nations climate talks. They face a daunting reality: carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels are rising again.
Global CO2 emissions are projected to go up in 2018 by more than 2%. In 2017, they increased by 1.6%, having flattened out between 2014 and 2016. The reasons? The use of oil and gas keeps growing, and some countries are still using coal to fuel much of their economic growth (see ‘Rising pressures’).
The UN meetings, this year in Katowice, in the heart of Poland’s coalfields, constitute a checkpoint. The Paris climate agreement was adopted in 2015 — when nations signed up to limit global warming to well below 2 °C, and to strive for 1.5 °C. The first formal revisions of national emissions-reduction targets are in 2020.
To get back on track, the revised targets must be more ambitious than those pledged in 2015. As we argued last year in Nature, global CO2emissions must start to fall by 2020 if we are to meet the temperature goals of the Paris agreement.