The global financial crisis and rising oil prices have helped cut the annual increase of global CO2 emissions from oil, coal, gas and cement production by 50 percent, according to a new study released by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (NEAA). The report also indicates that emissions from developing countries increased above 50 percent for the first time.
The study shows that emissions increased by 1.7 percent in 2008, compared to 3.3 percent in 2007. Since 2002, the average annual increase was almost 4 percent. Global CO2 emissions increased from 15.3 billion tons in 1970, to 22.5 billion tons in 1990 and 31.5 billion ton in 2008, which represents an increase of 41 percent since 1990.
In addition to high oil prices and the financial crisis, the increased use of new renewable energy sources, such as biofuels for road transport and wind energy for electricity generation, also helped mitigate the impact on CO2 emissions, according to the study.
Another major finding reveals that for the first time the share of global CO2 emissions from developing countries is slightly higher at 50.3 percent than industrialized countries at 46.6 percent and international transport at 3.2 percent.
With UN climate negotiations less than six months away, the new report will provide useful data for those arguing for binding emissions targets for all nations, reports the Guardian.
The slower growth in CO2 emissions was primarily due to a decrease in global fossil oil consumption of about 0.6 percent, the first global decrease since 1992. The study also reports that increased use of biofuels such as bioethanol and biodiesel contributed about 0.3 percent to the global decrease.
Jos Olivier, the NEAA researcher responsible for the new data, told The Guardian that the environmental benefits of biofuels would look “less favorable” in a broader analysis that looked at the impact of all greenhouses gases, rather than CO2 alone. He also said the data does not take into account the CO2 released by deforestation, which accounts for almost 20 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions and takes place primarily in the developing world.
Another key finding shows that global emissions from coal consumption increased by 3.5 percent, which was less than in previous years, where annual increases averaged about 5 percent. NEAA attributes the slowdown to high fuel prices, the European CO2 Emission Trading Scheme (EU ETS), and the global recession.