Carbon dioxide emissions note worldwide increase; China, India key top polluters’ list

Published: 12.11.12

Carbon dioxide emissions from industry rose an estimated 2.6% in 2012, a study released last week showed.

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

“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 tons, 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% 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.

Environmentalists in Qatar summer (Photo: AFP)

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

India’s emissions grew 7.5% last year versus 9.4% growth in 2010, while emissions in the United States and the European Union fell 1.8% 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 Organization in Canberra.

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

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.

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

Each year of 3% 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.

Andrew Weaver, a climate scientist at the University of Victoria in Canada, commented on the study: “We are losing control of our ability to get a handle on the global warming problem.”

The latest pollution numbers show that worldwide carbon dioxide levels are 54% higher than the 1990 baseline.

According to the study, the biggest polluters in 2011 were China, the United States, India, Russia, Japan, Germany, Iran, South Korea, Canada and South Africa.

AP contributed to this report,7340,L-4314674,00.html