Worldwide carbon dioxide emissions continue to rise amidst threats of global warming and climate change. Records show a 3% increase in global emissions in 2011, which translates to an all-time high of 34 billion tons of CO2 released in the atmosphere.
These findings were taken from the annual report ‘Trends in global CO2 emissions’, which was recently released by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre and the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency. The report was based on data from the Emission Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR).
China, the most populous country in the world, registered the highest increase in emission by 9% with 7.2 tons per capita. This was due to the upsurge of economic growth experienced by the country. In particular, the growth in cement and steel productions caused China’s domestic coal consumption to increase by 9.7%.
In contrast, the recent recession in 2008-2009, high oil prices and increased share in natural gas led to a 2% decrease in emission in the US. However, it is still one of the highest CO2 emitter with 17.3 tons per capita.
Similarly, the European Union registered a 3% decrease in emission with 7.5 tons per capita. Japan also had a 2% decrease in emission, whereas India had a 6% increase in emission.
The report shows a decrease in emission for OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries. The 34 countries belonging to the OECD account for one third of the global emissions, which is roughly the same share as that of China and India combined.
The 3% increase in emission in 2011 is above the previous decade’s average annual increase of 2.7%. The top emitters are China (29%), the US (16%), the EU (11%), India (6%), the Russian Federation (5%) and Japan (4%).
From 2000 to 2011, the cumulative emissions of CO2 from human activities, including forest fire, were around 420 billion tons. According to scientific studies, the cumulative emissions from 2000 to 2050 must not exceed 1000 to 1500 billion tons. This limit must be observed to control the average rise in global temperature to 20C above the pre-industrial levels. If the increasing trend remains unabated, the cumulative emissions will soon surpass the limit within the next 20 years.
However, there is hope. The use of renewable energy sources is growing at an accelerated rate and quadrupled from 1992 to 2011. An estimated 0.8 billion tons of CO2 emission was avoided due to the use of renewable sources in 2011.