The Heat Is Online

Emissions Up Sharply in 2007

Global Warming Gas Emissions Jumped


The Associated Press, Sept. 25, 2008


Worldwide man-made emissions of carbon dioxide -- the main gas that causes global warming -- jumped 3 percent last year, international scientists said.


That means the world is spewing more carbon dioxide than the worst case scenario forecast by a Nobel Prize-winning group of international scientists in 2007. Scientists said if the trend does not stop, it puts the world potentially on track for the highest predicted rises in temperature and sea level.


The pollution leader was China, followed by the United States, which past data show is the leader in emissions per capita in carbon dioxide output. And while several developed countries slightly cut their CO2 output in 2007, the United States churned out more.


Still, it was large increases in China, India and other developing countries that spurred the growth of carbon dioxide pollution to a record high of 9.34 billion tons of carbon (8.47 billion metric tons).


Figures released by science agencies in the United States, Great Britain and Australia show that China's added emissions accounted for more than half of the worldwide increase. China passed the United States as the No. 1 carbon dioxide polluter in 2006.

Emissions in the United States rose nearly 2 percent in 2007, after declining the previous year. The U.S. produced 1.75 billion tons of carbon (1.58 billion metric tons).


Gregg Marland, a senior staff scientist at the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, said he was surprised at the results because he thought world emissions would drop because of the economic downturn. That didn't happen. "If we're going to do something (about reducing emissions), it's got to be different than what we're doing," he said.


The emissions, which are based on data from oil giant BP PLC and look at the burning of fossil fuel and production of cement, show that China has become the major driver of world trends. China emitted 2 billion tons of carbon (1.8 billion metric tons) last year, up 7.5 percent from the previous year.


"We're shipping jobs ashore from the U.S., but we're also shipping carbon dioxide emissions with them," Marland said. "China is making fertilizer and cement and steel and all of those are heavy energy-intensive industries."


Developing countries not asked to reduce greenhouse gases by the 1997 Kyoto treaty -- and China and India are among them -- now account for 53 percent of carbon dioxide pollution. Developing countries surpassed industrialized ones in carbon dioxide emissions in 2005, a new analysis of older figures shows.


India is in position to beat Russia for the No. 3 carbon dioxide polluter behind the United States, Marland said. Indonesia levels are increasing rapidly.


Denmark's emissions dropped 8 percent. The United Kingdom and Germany reduced carbon dioxide pollution by 3 percent, while France and Australia cut it by 2 percent.


What is "kind of scary" is that the worldwide emissions growth is beyond the highest growth in fossil fuel predicted just two years ago by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said Ben Santer, an atmospheric scientist at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab.


Under the panel's scenario then, temperatures would increase by somewhere between 4 and 11 degrees Fahrenheit (2.4 to 6.3 degrees Celsius) by the year 2100.


"We do have control over what happens over the next several decades," Santer said. "This illustrates the importance of exercising that control."  


Global carbon emissions rising rapidly: study


Reuters News Service, Sept. 25, 2008


SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Global carbon emissions rose rapidly in 2007, an annual study says, with developing nations such as China and India now producing more than half of mankind's output of carbon dioxide, the main gas blamed for global warming.


The Global Carbon Project said in its report carbon dioxide emissions from mankind are growing about four times faster since 2000 than during the 1990s, despite efforts by a number of nations to rein in emissions under the Kyoto Protocol.


Emissions from burning fossil fuels was a major contributor to the increase, the authors said in their "Global Carbon Project (2008) Carbon budget and trends 2007" report.


India would soon overtake Russia to become the world's third largest CO2 emitter, it says.


"What we are talking about now for the first time is that the absolute value of all emissions going into the atmosphere every year are bigger coming from less developing countries than the developed world," said the project's Australia-based executive director Pep Canadell.


"The other thing we confirm is that China is indeed now the top emitter," he told Reuters, adding that China alone accounted for 60 percent of all growth in emissions. The United States was the second largest emitter.


The project is supported by the International Council for Science, the umbrella body for all national academies of science.




The rapid rise in emissions meant the world could warm faster than previously predicted, said professor Barry Brook, director of the Research Institute for Climate Change and Sustainability at the University of Adelaide in Australia.


He said CO2 concentrations could hit 450 ppm by 2030 instead of 2040 as currently predicted. They are just above 380 ppm at present.


"But whatever the specific date, 450 ppm CO2 commits us to 2 degrees Celsius global warming and all the disastrous consequences this sets in train."


The Global Carbon Project started in 2001 and examines changes in the earth's total carbon cycle involving man-made and natural emissions and how carbon is absorbed through sinks, such as oceans and forests.


Canadell says the project analyses data from CO2 samples taken around the globe and national emissions figures sent to the United Nations.


He called the rapid rise in emissions between 2000 and 2007 and accumulation of the gas unprecedented, and pointed out that it occurred during a decade of intense international efforts to fight climate change.


At present, the Kyoto Protocol, the main global treaty to tackle global warming, binds only 37 rich nations to emissions curbs from 2008.


But Kyoto's first phase ends in 2012 and the pact doesn't commit developing nations to emissions caps. The United Nations is leading talks to expand Kyoto from 2013 and find a magic formula that brings on board all nations to commit to curbs on emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases.




According to the report, atmospheric CO2 concentration rose to 383 parts per million in 2007, or 37 percent above the level at the start of the industrial revolution, and is the highest level during the past 650,000 years.


It said the annual mean growth rate of atmospheric CO2 was 2.2 ppm per year in 2007, up from 1.8 ppm in 2006.


"This latest information on rising carbon dioxide emissions is a big wake-up call to industry, business and politicians," said professor Matthew England, joint director of the University of New South Wales Climate Change Research Center.


Canadell said the credit crisis would most likely trim emissions growth.


"There is no doubt that the economic downturn will have an influence. But unless the big players, China, India, Russia and Japan, suffer as much as the United States is suffering, we'll see a small decline only."


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