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World GHG Emissions Hit Record Level

Greenhouse gas emissions reached their highest point ever last year, making it “extremely challenging” to prevent global temperature rising to dangerous levels, the International Energy Agency said this weekend.

The IEA said that 30.6 gigatons of carbon dioxide were emitted in 2010, up five percent from 2008’s level of 29.3 Gt.

This increase means world leaders will struggle to keep to their goal of preventing a temperature rise of more than two degrees Celsius, described by many scientists as the threshold to potentially dangerous climate change, IEA chief economist Fatih Birol said. The two degree limit was agreed at UN climate change talks in Cancun last year.

“I am very worried. This is the worst news on emissions,” Birol told the Guardian. “It is becoming extremely challenging to remain below two degrees. The prospect is getting bleaker. That is what the numbers say.”

But Birol added that government action could still prevent disaster. “If we have bold, decisive and urgent action, very soon, we still have a chance of succeeding,” he said.

The IEA says that for a two degree increase to be averted, global energy-related emissions in 2020 must not be greater than 32 Gt. This means that over the whole of the next decade, emissions must rise by less than they did between 2009 and 2010.

The agency also estimates than 80 percent of projected emissions from the power sector in 2020 are “locked in” – that is, they will come from existing power plants or those currently under construction. This will make it even harder to meet the two degree target, Birol says.

The latest figures buck projections based on the state of the world economy. The recession did cause emissions from energy to fall slightly between 2008 and 2009, from 29.3 Gt to 29 GT, the Guardian reports. The IEA had expected a small rise in 2010 due to economic recovery, but nothing like the increase seen.

About three-quarters of the 2009-2010 emissions rise came from developing countries, although they only accounted for 60 percent of global emissions last year. In terms of fuels, 44 percent of the estimated CO2 emissions in 2010 came from coal, 36 percent from oil, and 20 percent from natural gas.

World leaders will meet in Bonn next week for the latest round of UN climate talks, but the Guardian says that little progress is expected.

Picture credit: National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

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6 thoughts on “World GHG Emissions Hit Record Level

  1. really people we are going to believe this BS? The data goes back 800,000 years! The earch is 4.54 BILLION years old! The power of the universe and particularly the earth are way above what humans can control! Why do you think we have been completely frozen at times and then a scourching desert at other times? This is what happen, and yes humans will not be here forever, its a viscous cycle, just live with it, its going to be hot.

  2. If, according to what they say about specific deadlines are true (even though factual), what would happen by the year 2100 if environmental policies are met at a later time? What would that mean in environmental regulations through the House of Representatives and the Congress today that would reflect on the future if nothing gets done and if we continue at the rate in which we are going?…. Ignoring the Annonomous who has no clue about environmental degredation and conservation issues we face that are harming people’s health and the rise in GHG gasses from all sources in which mankind has been taking advantage of, what about the economical consumerism when it comes to the green market? How can we make specific accommodations in local areas before going outside that barrier just to lower the costs of carbon taxes or even prevent any green accounting firms to audit those who emit more GHG’s in our atmosphere?

  3. Beliefs are not a part of this or any other scientific issue. The evidence shows a clear anthropogenic influence on climate.

    Humans can indeed control things that have both positive and negative influences on our future. Stratospheric ozone depletion, and subsequent efforts to correct that human-caused deficiency, comes to mind most readily. Other examples are also available.

    Humanity can and should choose to act in order to minimize the negative impacts that we will otherwise have on our own futures. Instead of just living with them. What a ridiculous comment.

  4. From the chemical equasion of burning gasoline you can calculate that a combustion of one gallon of gasoline you get 9.1kg or 20lbs of CO2. Daily consuption of oil in the USA is about 19,000,000 barrels per day, and each barrel is 31 gallons. It is huge number per year. Add to this consumption of coal, which adds more CO2. Add to this natural gas that we use for heating our houses. The total number is very scary. But it is only what we do in the US. To see what happens on the world level, we need to multiply all what we do in the US by a factor of 5 or higher. Please take a calculator, do some math!

  5. The polluters have been tremendously successful in misdirecting the dialogue away from the phenomenal economic benefits of a climate strategy. U.S. utility efficiency spending in 2010 was about $6 billion, and saved about $18 billion. We could triple that in a year if we just pay attention.

    Last year’s wind installation dropped from the year before, but was over $15 billion. Current wind turbine prices make windpower cheaper than new natural gas, new coal, and less than half the cost of new nuclear power. Wind is the cheapest new form of generation, and it will be forty years before the nation as a whole has enough to worry about time of use, unless we rapidly quadruple wind development.

    In some parts of the U.S. new photovoltaics are cheaper than new natural gas. With a ten percent average drop in cost, PV will be cheaper than coal in two or three years in most of the nation, and may be cheaper than wind in some parts of the nation in five years.

    All this adds up to an energy strategy which is cheaper than anything else anyone else can come up with, and just happens to solve global warming in the mean time. The electric sector is easiest, but natural gas yields to efficiency and renewables too, and if petroleum doesn’t price itself out of the market we can at least cut it by two thirds before we have to invent anything new or do anything which is more expensive than current petroleum prices.

    Ask yourself why our global dialogue doesn’t sound like this.

  6. The word ‘data’ takes on almost magical meaning within the context of this debate. People think that if they have the talismanic ‘data’ to hold on to, they must be standing on firm ground. However the following two stories show how genuine data can tell stories that conflict with AGW models. The data is genuine enough and comes froma authorised sources ~ NASA and the Japanese satellite.

    Here’s the first:

    “NASA satellite data from the years 2000 through 2011 show the Earth’s atmosphere is allowing far more heat to be released into space than computer models have predicted, according to a new study in the peer-reviewed science journal Remote Sensing. The study indicates far less future global warming will occur than United Nations computer models have predicted, and supports prior studies indicating increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide trap far less heat than anthropogenic forcing proponents have claimed.

    “Study co-author Dr. Roy Spencer, a principal research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and U.S. Science Team Leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer flying on NASA’s Aqua satellite, reports that real-world data from NASA’s Terra satellite contradict multiple assumptions fed into computer models.

    See article and download paper here: http://news.yahoo.com/nasa-data-blow-gaping-hold-global-warming-alarmism-192334971.html

    “The satellite observations suggest there is much more energy lost to space during and after warming than the climate models show,” Spencer said in a July 26 University of Alabama press release. “There is a huge discrepancy between the data and the forecasts that is especially big over the oceans.”

    The second example is about data from the Japanese IBUKU satellite, which finds that northern hemisphere industrialised nations are among the lowest CO2 polluters in the world while the densest jungles of Asia and South America are the biggest CO2 polluters.


    Both these stories are based on genuine data, which just goes to show how reliable data is, and how it can be cut and diced and pasted to present any kind of story you want, on either side of the argument.

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