Growth in atmospheric CO2 concentration despite almost no growth in emission


The global CO2 emissions growth from fossil fuels and industry in 2016 is nearly flat for a third year in a row. In spite of this fact, the growth in atmospheric CO2 concentration was at a record-high in 2015 and could be at a record high again in 2016. Reason is a smaller uptake of carbon in the terrestrial biosphere.

The CO2 emissions from fossil fuels and industry are projected to be around 36.4 Gt (gigatons) this year, according to a study by the Global Carbon Project (GCP). They were at 36.3 Gt CO2 in 2015 and at 36.2 Gt CO2 in 2014. But GCP Scientific Steering Committee member Sabine Fuss from the MercatorResearch Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) warns: “The lower growth in emissions is not aligned with the pathways that limit climate change below two degrees Celsius.”

German emissions did not decrease in 2015 but increased slightly by 0.7 %. A similar picture emerges at EU level. The 28 member states created a rise of 1.4 % from 2014 to 2015. To achieve a climate change below two degrees Celsius political changes are needed.

The cause of the global growth in atmospheric CO2 concentration is a smaller uptake of carbon in the terrestrial biosphere in response to warm and dry conditions over tropical land. In 2015, the land sink was smaller than usual at 7 Gt CO2 per year, only 60 % of its average intensity during the previous decade. “What we see here is the response of land ecosystems to large interannual climate variability”, explains Sönke Zaehle from the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany. He continues, “on average, the land biosphere takes up carbon and slows the growth rate of atmospheric CO2, and will probably continue to do so for the next years. However, years like 2015 with a strong El Niño event should remind us that climatic swings with warmer temperatures and more droughts have a strong effect on the land carbon storage.”

Philipp Kronsbein / MCC /
Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry

Similar Entries

Gurit (SIX Swiss Exchange: GUR) today reports double-digit sales growth for the second consecutive year. The strong wind energy demand, customer wins and the full deployment of the Company`s comprehensive core materials offering were the main contributors to the increase of net sales to CHF 359.4 million for 2015. Based on the positive sales development and the materialization of the initiated improvement programs, operating profit rose to CHF 33.0 million (9.2% of net sales) and net profit amounted to CHF 22.6 million for the full year 2015.

The 44 m high West Stand of Bristol’s Ashton Gate Stadium is now equipped with a PV system that will supply about 95 MWh of solar power per year for the operation of the stadium. (Photo: Bristol Sport)

Bristol’s Ashton Gate stadium has reduced its carbon emissions by 20% thanks to a PV system atop of one of the stands. The PV system has a capacity of 117 kW and was part of a major refurbishment, which included several energy efficiency measures.

The Top 25 global wind asset owners. (Source: MAKE)

In 2015, the 25 biggest wind asset owners expanded their collective grid-connected wind capacity to 170 GW but lost market share. This was shown in a new market report by renewable energy consulting company MAKE.

Greg Clark has been appointed as head of the new Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. (Photo: CGI/Flickr, CC-license,

The new UK government has disbanded the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). The new Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy will now be responsible for policies regarding renewable energies.