Global carbon emissions ‘to reach 36bn tonnes’

Carbon dioxide levels are 61 per cent above 1990 levels agreed at Kyoto. Picture: Getty
Carbon dioxide levels are 61 per cent above 1990 levels agreed at Kyoto. Picture: Getty
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WORLD carbon emissions are set to reach a record 36 billion tonnes by the end of the year, scientists have warned.

Figures revealed in the annual Global Carbon Budget show the level of emissions is estimated to be 61 per cent above 1990 levels agreed by the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gases.

The report found the biggest contributors to fossil fuel emissions in 2012 were China, accounting for 27 per cent, the United States for 14 per cent, the European Union for 10 per cent, and India for 6 per cent.

The findings from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia come as governments meet in Warsaw for the second week of the UN Climate Change Summit.

Most emissions are from coal responsible for 43 per cent, oil accounted for 33 per cent, gas for 18 per cent, cement production for 5.3 per cent and gas flaring for 0.6 per cent.

Carbon dioxide emissions from deforestation and other land-use change added 8 per cent to the emissions from burning fossil fuels.

Professor Corinne Le Quéré of who compiled the report, 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.”

Global emissions of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels are projected to have risen by 2.1 per cent in 2013.

The 2013 projected rise comes after a similar rise of 2.2 per cent last year.

But the rise in fossil fuel emissions was slower compared to the average 2.7 per cent over the previous 10 years.

‘Grim reality-check’

Dr Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland said: “These figures are a grim reality-check for the Ministers assembling at the Warsaw climate conference. The world’s nations need to make urgent progress on further reducing emissions in the run up to 2020 and to agree how fair 2020 targets will be set in Paris in two years’ time.

“The Global Carbon Report predicts that human activities will have created 36 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, the most ever emitted. Emissions from burning coal will be the largest single source.

“Temperatures are up, polar ice is disappearing and the oceans are becoming more acidic. The world is already a degree warmer than it was, and could be heading for a disastrous 4.5 degrees of warming by 2100.

“Following serious backsliding from Australia, Japan and Canada, the Warsaw conference needs to produce some concrete results to end the planet’s dangerous fossil fuel fixation and to develop the huge job-creating potential of renewable power. Countries like Scotland can take a lead in the transition to a low-carbon economy.

“Many key issues need to be resolved, including how to share targets fairly between nations and how to compensate countries already suffering damage from climate change. However, this conference is already surrounded by controversy, with sponsors ranging from car companies to airlines, and a major coal conference running at the same time.

Dr Dixon added: “Scotland has world-leading climate targets but we need to try harder to actually meet them, with more investment needed in insulating people’s homes, a major shift in focus from cars to public transport, walking and cycling and a continuing transformation of the electricity sector.”

The Centre is also launching a Carbon Atlas, a new online platform showing the world’s biggest carbon emitters more clearly than ever before.

The Carbon Atlas reveals the biggest carbon emitters of 2012, what is driving the growth in China’s emissions, and where the UK is outsourcing its emissions.

Scottish emissions down by a quarter

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Greenhouse gas emissions generated by Scotland have fallen by 25.7 per cent since 1990, and the long term trend shows Scotland remains on course to achieving its world-leading emissions reduction targets for greenhouse gases generated in Scotland. It must also be noted that Scotland continues to lead Western Europe on emissions reductions.

“The Scottish Government takes the issue of climate change very seriously, which is recognised by our international partners, however, our actions alone are not enough – we need the rest of the UK, our European neighbours, and indeed all countries to share our ambition – and we are putting forward this case at the on-going UN climate talks in Warsaw.

“Scotland is committed to working to meeting its targets, cut waste and use resources more efficiently. We have just published our second report on proposals and policies for meeting our climate change targets, which includes our new waste regulations to help to reduce Scotland’s global emissions footprint through greater prevention, reuse and recycling of materials whilst also reducing Scotland’s reliance on the world’s limited supply of primary resources.”