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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Global Carbon emissions achieve record high in 2010

Global CO2 emissons have reached a new record high of 30.6 Gigatonnes during 2010 exceeding by 5% the previous record of 29.3 Gt set in 2008. Emissions dipped during the Global Financial Crisis as global industrial production decreased. The emissions estimate was prepared by the Internatonal Energy Agency (IEA) who warned that the prospect of limiting the global increase in temperature to 2ºC is getting bleaker.

According to the IEA 80% of projected emissions from the power sector in 2020 are already locked in from current power plants or plants under construction.

“This significant increase in CO2 emissions and the locking in of future emissions due to infrastructure investments represent a serious setback to our hopes of limiting the global rise in temperature to no more than 2ºC,” said Dr Fatih Birol, Chief Economist at the IEA.

The COP16 negotiations at Cancun in December 2010 agreed on a target of limiting temperature increase to 2°C. That now seems difficult to achieve unless action is taken on reducing emissions in developed and developing countries.

“Our latest estimates are another wake-up call,” said Dr Birol. “The world has edged incredibly close to the level of emissions that should not be reached until 2020 if the 2ºC target is to be attained. Given the shrinking room for manœuvre in 2020, unless bold and decisive decisions are made very soon, it will be extremely challenging to succeed in achieving this global goal agreed in Cancun.”

Just four years ago at the Bali Kyoto Protocol meeting the IPCC strongly recommended that rich countries should cut emissions by 25-40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020. This recommendation was moved to a footnote at the US delegation's insistence.

In Australia we have a both sides of politics focussed on a 5% emissions cut on 2000 levels by 2020, with a great debate about setting a price on carbon through an initial fixed price carbon tax leading into an Emissions Trading Scheme down the track.

According to the IEA global energy-related emissions in 2020 must not be greater than 32 Gt to be consistent in limiting warming to 2ºC. IEA estimates 40% of global emissions came from OECD countries in 2010, while developing countries such as China and India saw much stronger growth in emissions. On a per capita basis, OECD countries collectively emitted 10 tonnes, compared with 5.8 tonnes for China, and 1.5 tonnes in India.

Source: International Energy Agency, May 30, 2011 - Prospect of limiting the global increase in temperature to 2ºC is getting bleaker

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