Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Economic Recovery Brings Return to Growth of CO2 Emissions

Climate
Economic Recovery Brings Return to Growth of CO2 Emissions

Worldwatch Institute

Although global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) declined slightly in 2009, the beginnings of economic recovery led to an unprecedented emissions increase of 5.8 percent in 2010. In 2011, global atmospheric levels of CO2 reached a high of 391.3 parts per million (ppm), up from 388.6 ppm in 2010 and 280 ppm in pre-industrial times. According to new research conducted by the Worldwatch Institute for its Vital Signs Online project, energy use represents the largest source of global CO2emissions.

More than 70 percent of CO2 emissions result from the burning of fossil fuels for energy use, such as electricity generation, transportation, manufacturing and construction. In 2009, electricity generation and heating alone accounted for 41 percent of all energy related CO2 emissions.

“Unfortunately for the future of climate, the global economy remains tightly coupled to fossil fuel combustion and carbon dioxide emissions,” said Worldwatch President Robert Engelman. “We gained a short respite from increases in CO2 emissions—but only at the cost of an economic downturn. Now we are rebounding economically—at the cost of once again accelerating the approach of a high-risk warming that the world’s nations have so far been unable to address.”

The report highlights emissions increases in both industrialized and developing economies. Member states of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a group of industrialized countries, increased their emissions by 3.4 percent in 2010, while countries outside the OECD saw an increase of 7.6 percent. Although China was the world’s largest overall emitter in 2010 (followed by the U.S., India and Russia), an examination of emissions per capita tells a different story. China ranks only 61st in terms of the CO2 emitted per person. In India—the world’s third largest emitter—emissions per capita rank far below the world average. The U.S., in contrast, ranks second overall and 10th in per capita emissions.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has long stressed the urgent need for cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions. Unfortunately, according to the Worldwatch report, national governments have largely failed to bring about the needed reductions.

“The Kyoto Protocol is an important achievement because it is the only international instrument that sets legally binding targets, yet it is increasingly becoming symbolic as it now only regulates around 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions,” says author and Worldwatch’s Climate and Energy Research Associate, Xing Fu-Bertaux. Global CO2 levels are now 45 percent above the 1990 level, which serves as the reference base year for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Several Annex I countries—including the U.S., which signed but never ratified the Kyoto Protocol—will be unable to meet their original reductions targets. Since December 2011, Canada, Japan and Russia, have chosen not to take on additional emissions targets within the second commitment period of Kyoto Protocol in the coming decade.

Further highlights:

  • In 2010, coal combustion accounted for 40 percent of energy-related CO2 emissions, while oil and natural gas represented 37 percent and 20 percent, respectively. Coal generates roughly twice as much CO2 as gas and oil.
  • Carbon intensity—or the CO2 emissions released per unit of gross domestic product—varies significantly worldwide, reflecting disparities in economic reliance on fossil fuels in various countries. The highest carbon intensities occur in the Middle East, but low-carbon economies such as Japan highlight the possibility of achieving high living standards with lower CO2 emissions.
  • In 2009, more than 70 percent of global CO2 emissions resulted from burning fossil fuels for electricity generation, transportation, manufacturing and construction.

For more information, click here.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres delivers a video speech at the high-level meeting of the 46th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council UNHRC in Geneva, Switzerland on Feb. 22, 2021. Xinhua / Zhang Cheng via Getty Images

By Anke Rasper

"Today's interim report from the UNFCCC is a red alert for our planet," said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

The report, released Friday, looks at the national climate efforts of 75 states that have already submitted their updated "nationally determined contributions," or NDCs. The countries included in the report are responsible for about 30% of the world's global greenhouse gas emissions.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

New Delhi's smog is particularly thick, increasing the risk of vehicle accidents. SAJJAD HUSSAIN / AFP via Getty Images

India's New Delhi has been called the "world air pollution capital" for its high concentrations of particulate matter that make it harder for its residents to breathe and see. But one thing has puzzled scientists, according to The Guardian. Why does New Delhi see more blinding smogs than other polluted Asian cities, such as Beijing?

Read More Show Less

Trending

A bridge over the Delaware river connects New Hope, Pennsylvania with Lambertville, New Jersey. Richard T. Nowitz / Getty Images

In a historic move, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) voted Thursday to ban hydraulic fracking in the region. The ban was supported by all four basin states — New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New York — putting a permanent end to hydraulic fracking for natural gas along the 13,539-square-mile basin, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Read More Show Less
Woodpecker

Colombia is one of the world's largest producers of coffee, and yet also one of the most economically disadvantaged. According to research by the national statistic center DANE, 35% of the population in Columbia lives in monetary poverty, compared to an estimated 11% in the U.S., according to census data. This has led to a housing insecurity issue throughout the country, one which construction company Woodpecker is working hard to solve.

Read More Show Less
A 3-hour special film by EarthxTV calls for protection of the Amazon and its indigenous populations. EarthxTV.org

To save the planet, we must save the Amazon rainforest. To save the rainforest, we must save its indigenous peoples. And to do that, we must demarcate their land.

Read More Show Less