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Record CO2 emissions in 2010 Bode Ill for Climate

Record CO2 emissions in 2010 Bode Ill for Climate

The International Energy Agency has issued new estimates that show greenhouse gas emissions from global energy generation reached record highs in 2010. Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in 2010 reached 30.6 Gigatonnes (Gt), a 5% jump from the previous record year in 2008. 2009 saw a decline in emissions due to the global economic recession, though that effect now seems short-lived. The Guardian quotes noted climate scientist Lord Stern of the London School of Economics: “These figures indicate that [emissions] are now close to being back on a ‘business as usual’ path.”
 
Eighty percent of projected emissions from energy in 2020 come from power plants around the world that are either already in operation or are under construction, indicating that our energy path is virtually locked into place. In 2010, 44% of the estimated CO2 emissions came from coal, 36% from oil and 20% from natural gas.

The report on the increase comes as officials prepare to meet June 6-17 in Bonn, Germany to prepare for the next major international climate conference in Durban at the end of this year. “It is clear that they need to push the world further down the right track to avoid dangerous climate change,” stated Christiana Figueres, the U.N.’s top climate change official, who added,  “I won’t hear that this is impossible. Governments must make it possible for society, business and science to get this job done.” At the 2009 Cancun climate talks, leaders agreed to a goal of keeping global temperature rise to two degrees Centigrade. This week the IEA stated that goal could be achieved only if global emissions rose less in the next ten years than they rose between 2009 and 2010.

About three-quarters of the emissions increase comes from developing countries, including China and India. However, before we in developed countries congratulate ourselves, a recent study of carbon footprints show that any decline in developed nations’ emissions are canceled out many times over by imports from developing nations. In effect, we have outsourced our manufacturing, and our carbon emissions, to the developing world.

Perhaps these latest figures will spur action. While dignitaries talk and politicians dither, the planet heats, and we are running out of time to make the changes in our lifestyles and expectations that must happen if we are to prevent more catastrophic climate change.

 

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Photo: Coal fired power plant in Germany © instamatics via iStockphoto

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57 comments

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5:35PM PDT on Aug 6, 2011

tks

3:56AM PDT on Jul 15, 2011

Great article. Thank you for this.

4:37AM PDT on Jun 21, 2011

Very disturbing...

8:25AM PDT on Jun 5, 2011

Emissions should be reduced drastically for us to survive.

6:29AM PDT on Jun 5, 2011

You don't say.

8:08PM PDT on Jun 1, 2011

Marion D--please don't confuse "climate" with "weather," as many do. There is a huge difference. This quote might help, excepted from an article by NASA:

"Weather is basically the way the atmosphere is behaving, mainly with respect to its effects upon life and human activities. The difference between weather and climate is that weather consists of the short-term (minutes to months) changes in the atmosphere. Most people think of weather in terms of temperature, humidity, precipitation, cloudiness, brightness, visibility, wind, and atmospheric pressure, as in high and low pressure.

In most places, weather can change from minute-to-minute, hour-to-hour, day-to-day, and season-to-season. Climate, however, is the average of weather over time and space. An easy way to remember the difference is that climate is what you expect, like a very hot summer, and weather is what you get, like a hot day with pop-up thunderstorms."

6:01PM PDT on Jun 1, 2011

It's the fault of the ignorant republicans who lie about Global Warming even though 90% of the world's scientist agree that climate change is caused by emissions from dirty coal and other fossil fuel plants. Republicans are dirty liars who care only about the money they get from rich corporations like the billionare Koch brothers that continue to pollute and destroy this planet.

4:41PM PDT on Jun 1, 2011

I've always heard you can't change the weather. Is that not true anymore? I believe there are things you can do to keep the air cleaner, but I do not believe you can change the weather.

11:05PM PDT on May 31, 2011

thanks for sharing

8:18PM PDT on May 31, 2011

I was going to ignore you, because I know you are beyond reason. But I used to teach 4th grade, and my students knew where rain and snow come from. They come from evaporation, and warm water evaporates faster than cold.

We are having more snow because the oceans are warmer. I would send a note to your parents to come to the principal's office if I could.

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