Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

CO2 emissions 'set to hit new peak'

Global CO2 emissions are set hit a record high, say scientists.

Rising global emissions of carbon dioxide greenhouse gas are set to reach a record high of 36 billion tonnes this year, say experts.

The 2.1% rise projected for 2013 will take global emissions from burning fossil fuels to a level 60% above what they were in 1990, according to a new report from British climate scientists.

Co-author Professor Corinne Le Quere, from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia, said: "Governments meeting in Warsaw this week need to agree on how to reverse this trend. Emissions must fall substantially and rapidly if we are to limit global climate change to below two degrees. Additional emissions every year cause further warming and climate change."

The Global Carbon Budget report shows that the biggest contributors to fossil fuel emissions last year were China (27%), the US (14%), the European Union (10%)), and India (6%).

The expected rise for 2013 follows a similar increase in carbon emissions of 2.2% last year.

In 2012, every person in the EU was responsible for producing seven tonnes of carbon dioxide. China had the same rate of emissions per person, while US citizens had a carbon "footprint" of 16 tonnes. By comparison, people in India generated 1.8 tonnes.

Most emissions are from burning coal (43%), oil (33%)), and gas (18%). The growth in coal around the world in 2012 accounted for 54% of the growth in fossil fuel emissions.

Carbon emissions from deforestation and other land-use change added 8% to the world total.

Cumulative emissions of carbon dioxide since 1870 are set to reach 2015 billion tonnes in 2013, with 70% generated by burning fossil fuels and 30% arising from deforestation and other land-use changes.

Scientists are anxious to peg global warming at no more than 2C higher than pre-industrial levels to avoid runaway greenhouse effects.

Professor Pierre Friedlingstein, from the University of Exeter, said: "We have exhausted about 70% of the cumulative emissions that keep global climate change likely below two degrees. In terms of CO2 emissions, we are following the highest climate change scenario of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released in September."

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