PARIS (AP) – Global carbon dioxide emissions may be dropping ever so slightly this year, spurred by a dramatic plunge in Chinese pollution, according to a surprising new study released Monday.
The unexpected dip could either be a temporary blip or true hope that the world is about to turn the corner on carbon pollution as climate talks continue in Paris, said the study’s authors, a scientific team that regularly tracks heat-trapping pollution.
One skeptical scientist offered a $10,000 bet that world emissions will keep rising despite the findings, which were published on the same day that Beijing issued its first ever red alert for smog, urging schools to close and invoking restrictions on factories and traffic.
Still, some leaders cheered the study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change.
“That shouldn’t tell us we don’t need to do anything, but that shows there is action,” Janos Pasztor, the United Nations assistant secretary general for climate change, told The Associated Press. “Things are going in the right direction. All we need is a strong agreement.”
Using preliminary data through October 2015, the international team of emission trackers project that worldwide emissions of carbon dioxide this year will be down by 200 million metric tons (220 million tons). Last year, the world pumped an estimated 35.9 billion metric tons (39.6 billion tons) into the air by burning coal, oil and gas, along with making cement.