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Energy emissions hit record high

The world's energy-related carbon dioxide emissions rose 1.4% last year to a record high of 31.6 gigatons.

The 28-country International Energy Agency said China saw the largest emissions growth, but the increase was among the lowest seen in a decade amid investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

The IEA said the energy sector accounts for about two-thirds of global emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases, which some scientists say are fuelling climate change.

Global climate talks are aimed at keeping the temperature rise below 2C compared to pre-industrial levels. The IEA found the world is on track for an increase of 3.6-5C. US emissions dropped 200 million tons, or 3.8%, in part due to a switch in power generation from coal to gas, while Europe's emissions declined by 50 million tons, or 1.4%.

"Climate change has quite frankly slipped to the back burner of policy priorities. But the problem is not going away - quite the opposite," said IEA executive director Maria van der Hoeven.

Climate scientists have warned that the global temperature rise could have catastrophic consequences such as flooding of coastal cities and island nations, disruptions to agriculture and drinking water, and the spread of diseases and the extinction of species.

The IEA report said emissions could be reduced significantly by 2020 by improving energy efficiency in buildings industry and transport, limiting the use of coal-fired power plants, halving the oil and gas industry's release of methane, and phasing out fossil fuel subsidies.

Some of those measures are being implanted in individual countries around the world, but governments are struggling to reach a global agreement that would make such actions binding.

Climate negotiators meeting this week in Bonn are haggling over the content of a global climate that is supposed to be adopted by 2015. The main sticking point is how to divide the burden of emissions cuts between developed and developing countries.

Industrialised countries want emerging economies like China, India and Brazil to take on bigger responsibilities, while the developing countries stress the historical responsibilities of long-time carbon polluters such as Europe and the United States.

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