Despite weak economy, CO2 emissions to grow 2.6 percent in 2012: study

Written on 2012/12/02 by David Fogarty

Carbon dioxide emissions from industry rose an estimated 2.6 percent in a weak global economy this year, a study released on Monday showed, powered by rapid emissions growth in China and India, which may add urgency to U.N. climate talks in Doha.

The study by the Global Carbon Project, an annual report card on mankind's CO2 pollution, also says emissions grew 3.1 percent in 2011, placing the world on a near-certain path towards dangerous climate change, such as more heat waves, droughts and storms.

Nearly 200 countries are attending the talks in Doha, Qatar, which run until December 7 and aim to galvanize ambition in fighting climate change by limiting warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, a goal nations agreed in 2010. Temperatures have already risen by 0.8 C (1.4 Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times.

"I am worried that the risks of dangerous climate change are too high on our current emissions trajectory. We need a radical plan," said co-author Corinne Le Quéré, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in Britain and professor at the University of East Anglia.

Total emissions for 2012 are estimated to be 35.6 billion tonnes, researchers said in the study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Current emissions growth is placing the world on a path to warm between 4C and 6C, says the study, with global emissions jumping 58 percent between 1990 and this year. The study focuses on emissions from burning fossil fuels and cement production.

A few big developing nations are fuelling the emissions growth, the study says, even though the global financial crisis spawned long-term green stimulus plans by China, India, the United States and others to attempt to curtail CO2 output.

China's carbon emissions grew 9.9 percent in 2011 after rising 10.4 percent in 2010 and now comprise 28 percent of all CO2 pollution compared with 16 percent for the United States.

India's emissions grew 7.5 percent last year versus 9.4 percent growth in 2010, while emissions in the United States and the European Union fell 1.8 percent and 2.8 respectively in 2011.


The study is the work of scientists and research institutes globally and coordinated by the Global Carbon Project, which is hosted by Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in Canberra.

"Unless large and concerted global mitigation efforts are initiated soon, the goal of remaining below 2 degrees Celsius will soon become unachievable," say the authors.

Globally, the improvement in the carbon intensity of economies, a measure of carbon emissions per unit of gross domestic product, has stalled since 2005, according to the study, which analyzed data from the U.S. government, United Nations and statistics from the oil company BP.

Emissions in 2011 from coal totaled 43 percent, oil 34 percent, with gas and cement production making up the rest.

The authors say while it was technically still possible to limit warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, emissions growth would have to rapidly come to a halt and then fall quickly.

Each year of 3 percent emissions growth made achieving the temperature limit even less likely and ever more costly.

It would require a rapid shift to greener energy and even net negative emissions in the future, where more CO2 is taken out of the air than added.

(Additional reporting by Nina Chestney in London; Editing by Robert Birsel)


Source: Reuters