Global Carbon Dioxide Emissions Rise Again in 2012

First Posted: Dec 03, 2012 06:07 AM EST

Since the dawn of industrialization in the 18th century, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been multiplying in great numbers. There has been a 40 percent rise in the levels of carbon since then.

Apart from this,  human activities such as burning of fossil fuels and deforestation have disturbed the natural equilibrium of the carbon cycle by adding 10 percent to the emissions.

According to a report released by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), in 2011 the amount of heat trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere had reached a record of 391 parts per million.

But as per the new statistics produced by the Global Carbon Project, the emissions are set to rise again in 2012 reaching a record high of 35.6 billion tonnes.

This project was led by researchers from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia.

The 2.6 percent rise projected for 2012 indicates that global emission from burning fossil fuel is nearly 58 percent above 1990 levels, the baseline year for the Kyoto Protocol.

It was reported that the major contributor for the global emissions in 2011 was China with nearly 28 percent, followed by the U.S. with 16 percent, European Union with 11 percent and India 7 percent.

Emissions in China and India grew by 9.9 and 7.5 per cent in 2011, while those of the U.S. and the European Union decreased by 1.8 and 2.8 per cent.

Emissions per person in China of 6.6 tonnes of CO2 were nearly as high as those of the European Union (7.3), but still below the 17.2 tonnes of carbon used in the U.S. Emissions in India were lower at 1.8 tonnes of carbon per person.

Professor Corinne Le Quere, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and professor at UEA, led the publication of the data. She said: "These latest figures come amidst climate talks in Doha. But with emissions continuing to grow, it's as if no-one is listening to the entire scientific community."

According to the researcher, this drastic rise in 2012 opened the gaps between real world emissions and those required to keep global warming below the international target of 2 degrees.

The study highlights the fact that these emissions have to be controlled and reduced in large numbers by 2020 in order to keep 2 degrees as a practical goal.

It shows previous energy transitions in Belgium, Denmark, France, Sweden and the UK have led to emission reductions as high as 5 percent each year over decade-long periods, even without climate policy.

Lead author Dr Glen Peters, of the Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research in Norway, said: "Scaling up similar energy transitions across more countries can kick-start global mitigation with low costs. To deepen and sustain these energy transitions in a broad range of countries requires aggressive policy drivers."

Co-author Dr Charlie Wilson, of the Tyndall Centre at UEA, added: "Public policies and institutions have a central role to play in supporting the widespread deployment of low carbon and efficient energy-using technologies, and in supporting innovation efforts."

This latest analysis by the Global Carbon Project is published  Dec. 2 in the journal Nature Climate Change with full data released simultaneously by the journal Earth System Science Data Discussion. 

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