Global carbon emissions is seen reaching another record in 2019

A coal-fired power plant in Bergheim, Germany, on Jan 22, 2019.
A coal-fired power plant in Bergheim, Germany, on Jan 22, 2019.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

LONDON (BLOOMBERG) - The amount of climate-damaging carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is likely to reach another record in 2019, driven by an increase in fossil fuel use and a decline in the area of the planet covered by forests, the British Met Office said.

The United Kingdom's official weather forecaster said the gain this year is likely to be one of the largest since it began measuring emissions 62 years ago.

The prediction is the latest evidence that a lull in the upward path of emissions has finished and that concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are now at levels comparable to those before the last ice age, when ocean levels were significantly higher.

The findings will focus more attention on deforestation, especially in Brazil, where scientists were hoping that protecting the Amazon rainforest would help absorb more of the most damaging emissions.

"Each year's CO2 (carbon dioxide) is higher than the last, and this will keep happening until humans stop adding CO2 to the atmosphere," said Mr Richard Betts, a professor at the Met Office Hadley Centre .

"This has been a particularly bad year for carbon emissions from tropical forests. Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon increased to around 8,000 sq km in 2018, which is equivalent to losing a football pitch of forest every 30 seconds," said Mr Jos Barlow, Professor of Conservation Science at Lancaster University.

"With this uptick in the rate of CO2 increase this year, we are continuing to head towards CO2 concentrations not seen in the geological record since the warmest Pliocene, 3 million years ago, and accelerating rapidly on to even hotter time periods," said Mr Tom Chalk, a research fellow in Ocean and Earth Science at the University of Southampton.

The rise in atmospheric CO2 is also down to the Earth's weather pattern likely moving towards an El Nino event this year. That will cause drier and warmer weather in the tropics leading to a weakening in the amount of CO2 that forests are capable of sucking up.