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Global GHG Emissions Remained Stable in 2009

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from industrialized countries fell a record seven percent in 2009 primarily due to the recession, but the cut was cancelled out by increased carbon emissions from China and India, according to a report from the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (NEAA), reports The Guardian.

Finding that CO2 emissions remain unchanged has surprised other agencies including the International Energy Agency, which had predicted a significant decline in 2009, reports the New York Times.

The report, “No growth in total global CO2 emissions in 2009,” shows that China grew its emissions 9 percent last year despite doubling wind and solar energy capacity for the fifth year in row, reports The Guardian. China has doubled its emissions in nine years, and India’s has risen by 59 percent over the same time period.

India’s emissions grew by 6 percent last year, surpassing Russia as the fourth largest emitter after China, the United States and the EU-15, reports the New York Times.

A key finding shows that there was no growth in global CO2 emissions in 2009 from fossil fuel use, cement production and chemicals production for the first time since 1992, according to the report.

Carbon-dioxide emissions emitted by the U.S. oil and natural gas industry dropped by more than 48 million metric tons from 2007 to 2008 thanks in part to investments in low-carbon technologies, according to a report from the American Petroleum Institute.

The NEAA assessment excludes CO2 emissions from deforestation and logging, forest and peat fires, post-burn decay of remaining above-ground biomass, and decomposition of organic carbon in drained peat soils. NEAA analysts say the latter mostly impacts developing countries and could add as much as 20 percent to global CO2 emissions.

Emissions are 10 percent below 1990 levels, which is below the Kyoto target level of 5.2 percent by 2012. However, the Dutch government-funded agency says that emission levels are likely to rise in industrialized nations as the economy improves, reports The Guardian.

“Another consequence of this downturn is that some industrialized countries may need to purchase fewer emission rights from reduction projects in developing countries, which, in turn, means that there will be less money available for emission reductions in those developing countries,” said NEAA spokeswoman Anneke Oosterhuis in the article.

Total global CO2 emissions increased 25 percent since 2000 to 31.3 billion tonnes and almost 40 percent since 1990, the base year of the Kyoto Protocol, according to the report.

The report also shows that 53 percent of emissions came from developing countries including China and India, and 44 percent came from industrialized countries in 2009, with the remaining 3 percent from international air and sea transport, reports the New York Times.

However, China and India’s average CO2 emissions per capita in 2009 are still well below those in industrialized countries. China’s per capita emissions were 6.1 tons, up from 2.2 tons in 1990, and India’s emissions tallied 1.4 tons.

In comparison, per capita emissions for 15 nations of the European Union were 7.9 tons in 2009, down from 9.1 tons in 1990, and 17.2 tons for the United States, down from 19.95 tons in 1990, reports the New York Times.

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