Human carbon dioxide output has pretty much plateaued over the last three years, according to the latest edition of an annual report produced by more than five dozen scientists.
The Global Carbon Project, which compares human CO2 emissions against the carbon absorbed by plants, land surfaces, and oceans, has found that the difference between the two will amount to a net increase of about 0.2% in 2016, “or barely a rise at all,” the Washington Post reports.
It’s the third year in a row in which the increase in net emissions has been close to flat, “which is quite a contrast to a decade ago, when it was growing at about 3%,” said Glen Peters of Oslo’s Center for International Climate and Environmental Research, one of the 67 researchers who contributed to the study.
“It’s really leveled out.”
Humanity will still release some 36 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere this year, the group calculates, not including “emissions of other greenhouse gases, such as methane, or the releases of additional carbon dioxide from deforestation and other non-industrial causes.”
Humanity’s ongoing emissions continue to add to the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. By several measures, atmospheric carbon dioxide irrevocably broke through the 400 part per million (ppm) threshold earlier this year.
“This third year of almost no growth in emissions is unprecedented at a time of strong economic growth,” Prof. Corinne Le Quéré, director of the University of East Anglia’s Tyndall Centre, told The Guardian. “This is a great help for tackling climate change, but it is not enough. Global emissions now need to decrease rapidly, not just stop growing.”