carbon emissions hit 40B tons in 2013
November 19, 2013

Global Carbon Emissions To Hit 40B Tons In 2013, Says Report

Brett Smith for - Your Universe Online

Scientists from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia (UEA) released their annual Global Carbon Budget report on Tuesday, which found that the continued burning of fossils fuels will drive carbon dioxide emissions to a record high of 40 billion tons in 2013.

Based on several recent studies and global computer models, the report’s projected fossil fuel emissions rise of 2.1 percent would put global levels at 61 percent above those from 1990, the baseline year for the Kyoto Protocol emissions treaty.

Report co-author Corinne Le Quéré called for government officials at the UN climate change summit this month in Poland to reach accords that would tamp down emissions and avoid a catastrophe.

"Governments meeting in Warsaw this week need to agree on how to reverse this trend,” said Le Quéré, a professor at the UEA’s climate research center. “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."

"We are communicating new science," she said, describing the new report. "Everyone can explore their own emissions, and compare them with their neighboring countries - past, present, and future."

According to the Global Carbon Budget, the emitters of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels in 2012 were China at 27 percent, the United States at 14 percent, the European Union at 10 percent and India at 6 percent. The projected global increase of 2.1 percent for 2013 comes after an increase of 2.2 percent in fossil fuel emission for 2012.

While the increase in global fossil fuel emissions for the past two years was less than the average 2.7 percent of the past decade, the report also showed significant increases for several countries in 2012, such as China (5.9 percent) and India (7.7 percent). At the same time, US emissions declined by 3.7 percent and the EU dropped by 1.8 percent.

However, the US was among the highest emitter per capita in 2012, at nearly 18 tons, while China and the EU were at about 7.7 tons. By comparison, India’s emissions rate per capita was just less than 2 tons.

The UEA researchers found that most fossil fuels emissions come from coal, 43 percent, followed by oil (33 percent), gas (18 percent), cement production (5.3 percent) and gas flaring (0.6 percent). The increased burning of coal in 2012 accounted for 54 percent of the total growth in fossil fuel emissions, according to the report.

After considering the effects of deforestation and other relevant human activities, total emissions of carbon dioxide since 1870 are set to reach more than 2200 billion tons in 2013 – with 70 percent attributed to burning fossil fuels and 30 percent due to land-use changes.

“We have exhausted about 70 percent of the cumulative emissions that keep global climate change likely below two degrees,” said co-author Pierre Friedlingstein from the University of Exeter, referring to the temperature increase that most experts say will cause significant, irreversible change to the Earth.

“In terms of CO2 emissions, we are following the highest climate change scenario of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released in September."

Alongside their Global Carbon Budget report, the climate researchers also released a Carbon Atlas, an interactive map that shows where carbon dioxide is being emitted and the nature of the emissions.