(photo credit: Bloomberg)
Global carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels have surged
to record levels following the 2008-09 global financial crisis, when a stagnant
economy resulted in a temporary decline in emissions.
In their annual
analysis published in the journal Nature Climate Change,
scientists working on the Global Carbon Project (GCP) say emerging economies
continue to dominate growth in the world’s carbon dioxide emissions from fossil
fuels, which rose 5.9 percent in 2010 and that have increased by 49 percent
since 1990, the year the Kyoto Protocol established as the baseline for targets
to limit emissions.
“Many saw the global financial crisis as an
opportunity to move the global economy away from persistent and high emissions
growth, but the return to emissions growth in 2010 suggests the opportunity was
not exploited,” said the report’s lead author, Dr. Glen Peters of the Centre for
International Climate and Environmental Research in Norway.
As a result
of rising fossil fuel emissions, cement production, and deforestation, the
atmospheric concentration of CO2, rose to 389.6 parts per million at the end of
2010, the highest level recorded in at least the last 800,000 years.
is clear that addressing the atmospheric increase in carbon dioxide is a global
problem that needs global cooperation and a global solution,” said Dr. Gregg
Marland, a co-author of the report and a research professor with Appalachian
State University’s Research Institute for Environment, Energy and
Global emissions have risen an average of 3.1 percent a year
from 2000 to 2010, a trend that is expected to continue in 2011.
CO2 emissions since 2000 are tracking the high end of the projections used by
the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which far exceed two degrees
warming by 2100,” said co-author Dr. Corinne Le Quéré, director of the Tyndall
Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia in Norwich,
“Yet governments have pledged to keep warming below two degrees, a
level which would avoid the most dangerous aspects of climate change,” she
China, the U.S., and India led the growth in emissions in 2010 with
growth rates of 10.4 percent, 4.1 percent and 9.4 percent respectively, and
there is no sign of abatement in the growing energy consumption of China and
India. Fossil fuel combustion and cement production were at the heart of carbon
dioxide emissions growth. China now accounts for 24.6 percent of global CO2
emissions and the U.S. 16.4 percent.
It has long been clear that carbon
dioxide emissions from developing countries are partially from the production of
goods and services that will be consumed in developed countries. But with
disruptions of international trade during the Global Financial Crisis, 2009 was
the first year in which global emissions for producing goods and services that
will be consumed in developing countries exceeded emissions for producing goods
and services to be consumed in developed countries.
science team that prepared the analysis tracked emissions growth in tandem with
significant economic events occurring since 1960. These included the 1970s oil
crisis, the U.S. savings and loan crisis, the collapse of the Federated States
of the Soviet Union, the Asian financial crisis and the 2008-09 global financial
“The impact of the global financial crisis has been short-lived
due to strong emissions growth in emerging economies, a return to emissions
growth in developed economies, and an increase in the fossil-fuel intensity of
the world economy,” said Dr. Pep Canadell with the Commonwealth Scientific and
Industrial Research Organization in Australia (CSIRO), a co-author of the report
and executive director of the Global Carbon Project (GCP).
Raupach, also from CSIRO and a report co-author, said the short-lived impact of
the global financial crisis on carbon dioxide emissions, when carbon emissions
decreased 1.4 percent worldwide, was reversed by an “easing of energy prices,
government investment to stimulate economic recovery and the effect of a decade
of high economic growth in the developing world which propagated into a rapid
global post-global financial crisis return to high emissions.”This article was first published at: www.newswise.com