CO2 emissions reach record levels

There’s been a sharp rise in global CO2 emissions over the last ten years, despite reductions by industrialized countries.

According to the European Commission, global emissions of CO2 increased by 45 percent between 1990 and 2010, hitting an all-time high of 33 billion tonnes in 2010.

Because of continued growth in developing countries and economic recovery in the industrialised world there was, say the researchers,  a record-breaking 5.8 percent increase in global CO2 emissions between 2009 and 2010. China, the US and India were the worst offenders.

This happened despite the fact that industrialised countries look likely to meet the collective Kyoto target of a 5.2 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions – partly because of large emission reductions from economies in transition in the early nineties, and partly because of the 2008-2009 recession.

And there’s a wide variation between industrialised countries. In the EU and Russia, CO2 emissions decreased by seven percent and 28 percent respectively. Japan’s emissions remained almost constant – but US emissions actually rose by five percent.

At present, the US emits 16.9 tonnes of CO2 per capita per year – over twice as much as the EU-27 with 8.1 tonnes. By comparison, Chinese per capita CO2 emissions of 6.8 tonnes.

It’s power generation and road transport which are driving the increase, both in industrial and developing countries. Globally, they account for about 40 percent and 15 percent respectively of the current total.

The full report is here.