Monday, May 25, 2015

Carbon Emissions Keep Climbing

Our current carbon dioxide trajectory gives us very little hope that we can keep temperatures within the internationally agreed upon upper threshold limit (2 degrees Celsius below pre-industrial times). Extrapolating from the current trend we are at the upper end of CO2 emissions scenarios. This could translate to temperature increases of more than 10 degrees C. by the end of the century.

According to the International Energy Agency the world emitted 32 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere in 2014. Globally, 1.1 trillion metric tons of carbon dioxide have been released to the atmosphere since 1965.

There were 5,404 million metric tons of carbon from energy-related sources in 2014 and energy-related CO2 emissions are projected to increase in both 2015 and 2016. Global CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion and cement production grew 2.3 percent to a record high of 36.1 billion tonnes CO2 in 2013. In 2014 emission increased 2.5 percent, which is 65 percent above the level of 1990.

Even as President Obama makes bold emissions reduction pledges (28 percent) CO2 emissions keep rising. US emissions increased 2.9 percent in 2013. Chinese emissions grew at 4.2 percent in 2013. China now emits more carbon per capita than Europe. Indian emissions grew at 5.1 percent in 2013 and the nation's economy is growing in carbon intensity.

In much of the world it appears that growth continues to be roughly commensurate with increasing emissions. However, in the US the amount of energy consumption per unit of GDP (energy intensity) is improving. In 2014, the US required 13 percent less energy than in 2005 per unit of GDP. Carbon intensity, or the amount of CO2 emissions per unit of energy consumption, declined in total by 8 percent during 2005-14, with an average annual decline of 0.9 percent.

Carbon emission keep rising as we head ever closer to irreversible tipping points that will augur a climate catastrophe.

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