Global C02 Emissions Return to Record Highs
Source: Deutsche Welle (5/31/11)
"GHG emissions edge close to level that should not be reached until 2020."
The goal to limit climate change to two degrees of warming is in jeopardy, a new report has found. Due to resurgent economies, energy-related emissions reached record highs last year. Efforts to contain C02 emissions took a hit in 2010, as a record amount of greenhouse gases stemming from energy production were dumped into the atmosphere.
Resurgent economies and rapid growth in developing nations like China and India contributed to the peak, the International Energy Agency (IEA) announced on Monday in Paris.
Emissions climbed to a record 30.6 gigatons (Gt), which is about 5% more than the previous record year in 2008, the IEA said.
The development brings to an end a short dip in global emissions brought about by the global economic downturn.
It also spells bad news for international pledges to limit global warming to 2.0 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels this century.
The pledge was most recently affirmed at the 2010 climate summit in Cancun.
Scientists fear that surpassing the 2-degree threshold risks leading to runaway climate change. They say the consequences will include more flooding, harsher storms, rising sea levels, species extinction and reduced food security.
IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol called the agency's estimate "another wake up call."
"The world has edged incredibly close to the level of emissions that should not be reached until 2020 if the 2˚ Celsius target is to be attained," he said in a release.
To make matters worse, 80% of the greenhouse gas emissions projected for 2020 are "locked in" through existing or under-construction fossil fuel power plants.
"Given the shrinking room for maneuver in 2020, unless bold and decisive decisions are made very soon, it will be extremely challenging to succeed in achieving this global goal agreed in Cancun," Birol added.