Global emissions to reach record high in 2013 – report

New report warns of soaring CO2 emissions as governments gather in Warsaw to hammer out global climate change treaty

(Pic: Arnold Paul)

(Pic: Arnold Paul)

By Sophie Yeo in Warsaw

Carbon emissions will reach a new record high of 36 billion tonnes this year, scientists have warned, giving the world even less time to reach a global deal on climate change being thrashed out in Warsaw this week. 

Emissions are set to rise by 2.1% in 2013, which puts the total output at 61% above 1990 levels, according to calculations in the Global Carbon Atlas.

China is responsible for the largest slice of these polluting gases. The country’s rapid economic development means that it was responsible for 27% of all greenhouse gases in 2012. Its emissions grew by 5.9%, compared to an average of 2.7% globally over the last ten years.

In absolute terms, the US fared better. It was responsible for only 14% of global emissions, while the rate at which it emitted was down by 3.7% in 2012.

But its population remains among the most polluting, with each individual person responsible for 16 tonnes of CO2. The EU and China were equally matched in terms of CO2 per person, with each individual emitting 7 tonnes in 2012.

The world has already used up two thirds of the total volume of carbon dioxide it can afford to emit if global temperatures have a reasonable chance of staying beneath 2C, the point at which climate change is predicted to have catastrophic effects, the UN’s panel of climate scientists (IPCC) warned in September.

“If we keep within that budget it gives us a likely chance to stay within 2C. If we go above it then it will be 2.5C and so on, up to a potential 5-6C,” Glen Peters, an author of the new report, told RTCC.

“Latest emissions scenarios from the IPCC indicate we’re at the high end at the moment, so things aren’t looking good.”

He adds that emissions will need to peak by 2020 and decrease rapidly by 3-4% each year across the globe if there is any hope of staying within the carbon limit.

“I think it’s possible, but it’s very hard. There’s a lot of inertia in the system.”

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