Planet-warming carbon emissions are rising in wealthy nations for the first time in five years 

  • Energy-related carbon emissions from advanced economies will rise in 2018 for the first time in five years, the International Energy Agency reports.
  • The increase in planet-warming emissions is underpinned by growing oil and natural gas consumption amid robust economic growth.
  • The IEA report follows a series of studies warning of dire impacts from climate change.
Workers with Raven Drilling line up pipe while drilling for oil in the Bakken shale formation outside Watford City, North Dakota.
Getty Images
Workers with Raven Drilling line up pipe while drilling for oil in the Bakken shale formation outside Watford City, North Dakota.

Carbon dioxide emissions from advanced economies will rise in 2018 for the first time in five years, the International Energy Agency reports, marking a setback for the global campaign to fend off the worst effects of climate change.

Energy-related carbon emissions from North America, Europe and developed nations in the Asia-Pacific region are set to rise by about a half a percent this year, according to a preliminary assessment from the IEA. Over the past five years, the group saw its emissions fall by 3 percent.

The increase is being driven by higher energy use as the global economy grows at a brisk pace. While wealthy nations continue to move away from burning coal, rising oil and natural gas consumption in those economies is increasing carbon emissions, the agency says.

The report comes as the nations of the world gather in Katowice, Poland, for a United Nations meeting to assess their progress cutting greenhouse gas emissions since the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. The accord aims to prevent global temperatures from rising by more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

"This turnaround should be another warning to governments as they meet in Katowice this week," IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said in a statement. "Increasing efforts are needed to encourage even more renewables, greater energy efficiency, more nuclear, and more innovation for technologies such as carbon capture, utilisation and storage and hydrogen, for instance."

In October, the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported that the path to staving off catastrophic impacts from climate change is quickly narrowing. Global temperatures could rise by 1.5 degree Celsius as soon as 2030, the climate change panel warned, requiring unprecedented global action to halt the increase.

Last month, the U.S. government issued an expansive study concluding that the effects of climate change could shrink the American economy by as much as 10 percent by 2100.

President Donald Trump dismissed the report last week, claiming climate change is not man-made and is not affecting the Earth yet. Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Agreement last year and is pursuing policies to increase fossil fuel consumption.

The IEA says strong growth in oil demand, China's growing natural gas consumption and new coal plant construction in emerging markets will drive an increase in global carbon emissions in 2018. Last year, global carbon emissions rose by 1.6 percent, ending a three-year period of flat-lining emissions.