Global CO2 emissions were up 5.9% in 2010 reaching record levels and are expected to increase by 3.1% this year, according to new research.
The findings by scientists working on the Global Carbon Project (GCP), published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Climate Change, indicate that the burning of fossil fuels, cement production and deforestation have contributed to atmospheric concentrations of CO2 at 389.6 parts per million – the highest recorded level for at least 800,000 years.
Last year saw emissions rise above the average rate of 3.1% over the last decade, led by China (up 10.4%), the US (up 4.1%) and India (up 9.4%). China now accounts for nearly a quarter of global CO2 emissions (24.6%) and the US 16.4%.
“Many saw the global financial crisis as an opportunity to move the global economy away from persistent and high emissions growth, but the return to emissions growth in 2010 suggests the opportunity was not exploited,” says lead author of the report, Glen Peters of the Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research in Norway.
But the effect of the financial crisis has been short-lived, with emissions still rising in emerging economies and developed nations returning to growth.
Although governments have pledged to make reductions to CO2 emissions and keep temperature rises to 2°C, one of the report authors warned that the action is not enough.
“Global CO2 emissions since 2000 are tracking the high end of the projections used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which far exceed two degrees warming by 2100,” warns report co-author Corinne Le Quéré, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia in the UK.
For further information:
Global emissions will push temperatures above 2°C, warns UNEP (24-Nov)
Greenhouse gases reach all time high in 2010, warns WMO (22-Nov)
Global emissions outpacing economic growth, warns PwC (10-Nov)
05 December 2011