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smokeLast year, more carbon was pumped into the Earth’s atmosphere than ever before – and it’s primarily due to the three countries that are already notorious for their greenhouse gas emissions.

On Sunday, scientists from the Global Carbon Project, an international research team, announced that countries emitted 39.8 billion tons of carbon dioxide in 2013. This is according to three articles published in the journals Nature Geoscience and Nature Climate Change.

The 2013 emissions are 2.3 percent higher than in 2012, equivalent to about 778 million tons of CO2.

“It’s in the wrong direction,” said Glen Peters, one of the scientists working on the Global Carbon Project. His team estimates that greenhouse gas emissions will increase by 2.5 percent by the end of 2014.

If these emission rates continue, scientists predict that average global temperatures will rise by 2°C in just 30 years. That’s a dangerous threshold UN members had pledged not to cross at the 2009 Copenhagen climate summit. There, countries promised to limit their greenhouse gas emissions in order to keep global temperatures under 2°C by the century’s end. If the GCP is correct, the planet will cross the threshold about 50 years too soon.

“Time is running short,” said University of Exeter’s Pierre Friedlingstein, one of the studies’ co-authors. “The more we do nothing, the more likely we are to be hitting this wall in 2040-something.”

The U.S., China and India are currently the world’s biggest polluters, and each showed marked increases in pollution between 2012 and 2013. India’s emissions grew by 5.1 percent, China’s by 4.2 percent, and America’s by 2.9 percent. Yet of the 200 other countries pledged to cut their emissions, only 12 percent managed to do so.

At the international climate summit to be hosted tomorrow in New York City, only America will be sending its head of state, President Barack Obama. Both China and India will be sending representatives, due to conflicts in scheduling.

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