World greenhouse emissions threaten warming goal

A power plant spews smoke into the evening sky on November 20, 2007 in Boxberg, Germany, contributing to fast-rising greenhouse
A power plant spews smoke into the evening sky on November 20, 2007 in Boxberg, Germany, contributing to fast-rising greenhouse gas emissions
Emissions of greenhouse gases are rising so fast that within one generation the world will have used up its margin of safety for limiting global warming to 2°C (3.6°F), an international team of scientists warned Sunday.

A report by the Global Carbon Project (GCP), published two days ahead of the UN on Tuesday, found that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil-fuel combustion and cement production grew by 2.3 percent in 2013, reaching a record 36 billion tonnes of CO2. It predicted a further 2.5-percent increase in 2014.

It means that the world's "carbon quota" is fast being used up, according to the GCP research. Like an allowance, the quota is the maximum of heat-trapping gas that can be emitted before warming breaches 2°C as compared to the start of the Industrial Revolution in 1750.

"With current emission rates. the remaining 'quota' to surpass 2°C of global warming will be used up in around 30 years—or one generation," its authors said. "Total future CO2 emissions cannot exceed 1,200 billion tonnes for a likely—66 percent—chance of keeping average global warming under 2°C since pre-industrial times."

"Globally emissions would need sustained and unprecedented reductions of around seven percent per year for a likely chance to stay within the quota," warned Glen Peters of Norway's Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research in Oslo (CICERO).

"If this were a bank statement it would say our credit is running out," Dave Reay, a professor at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, said in a commentary. "We've already burned through two-thirds of our global carbon allowance and avoiding dangerous now requires some very difficult choices."

Tuesday's summit in New York aims at giving a political push to meeting the UN target on climate change.

Member states have agreed to limit to 2°C above pre-industrial levels, although they have not set a date by which this should be achieved.

The negotiations are supposed to climax in Paris at the end of 2015, providing a global pact that should come into force in 2020. But the talks are complex and bitterly-fought, with divisions over who should shoulder the burden of curbing the emissions.

Although the 2°C goal is aimed at preventing "dangerous" climate change, scientists are cautious about endorsing it, saying the figure is no guarantee of avoiding damage to weather systems, amplifying such problems as drought, floods and storms and loss of land from rising seas.

The world's top 10 CO2-emitting countries, plus the EU
The world's top 10 CO2-emitting countries, plus the EU
China key for change

The report said most of the world's largest carbon emitters last year continued their upward curve.

China, which has been the world's No. 1 emitter since 2006, increased its CO2 emissions by 4.2 percent in 2013, while those of the United States and India grew by 2.9 and 5.1 percent respectively.

Only one of the main emitters, the European Union (EU), managed to reduce its figures last year, achieving a reduction of 1.8 percent due mostly to a weak economy and despite a rise in coal consumption by Finland, Germany and Poland.

China is responsible for 28 percent of all CO2 emissions, followed by the United States (14 percent) and Europe (10 percent), according to the GCP analysis.

"China now emits more than the US and EU combined and has CO2 per person 45 percent higher than the global average, exceeding even the EU average," said Robbie Andrew at CICERO.

"This is an interesting trend and shows the important role China will play in addressing the climate challenge," said Sybil Seitzinger, director of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP), based in Stockholm.

The research was published in two peer-reviewed journals, Nature Geoscience and Nature Climate Change.


Explore further

Greenhouse gas levels in atmosphere hit new high, UN reports

More information: Effectiveness of US state policies in reducing CO2 emissions from power plants, DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2385

Atmospheric circulation as a source of uncertainty in climate change projections, DOI: 10.1038/ngeo2253

© 2014 AFP

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Dug
Sep 21, 2014
Not one reference to the role of growing over-population by humans. You don't get too many greenhouse emissions with a sustainable human population. Address the problem at the source rather than rely on theoretical technical solutions that are improbable by the very nature of the problem.

Sep 21, 2014
In the face of what is know about Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW or simply global warming). it is amazing that even with all of the fuel efficiency improvements made and new renewable sources coming online all of the time, that the US is still growing at 2,9% in greenhouse gas emissions, and China is up 4.9%. On this day of the 1 biilion man march to stop global warming and climate change, It's shocking that such educated industrial societies like the US and China would allow growth of greenhouse gas emission to continue! It's shocking!

That is why we need to rise up and vote the denier bums out of office and put mankind on a safer environmental track. If a corporation becomes a polluter and contributes to this global warming, they shouldn't be allowed to keep their ill gotten profits. They should be fined and sued until they no longer can do business or brought into compliance with environmental regulation.

All hail the global climate marches. It inspired all of us.

Sep 21, 2014
You got to hand it to the AGW crowd, bald faced lies handed out as if they were truth from God. Take the picture, that is not smoke, it is steam, all those pictures of factory stacks are steam, the CO2 is invisible as are most of the particle matter. Rarely does a smoke stack actually smoke. The US has met the Kyotoa accords on CO2 emissions per the EPA. All that does not matter, CO2 does not actually warm the planet as 800000 years of data from the ice core studies shows in great detail. Nor does the current run up in CO2 warm the planet, the current climate has not changed in 16 to 18 years depending on what data set you look at and the political leaning of the speaker. The IPCC claims 16 years. The correlation between CO2 level change and climate change is zero. Arctic ice is again growing and the Antarctica ice has been growing for years. Incidentlly per NOAA data the hottest year in the US since 1895 was 1936, 78 years ago.

Sep 21, 2014
Dug has hit on the real problem. The population is 7 billion and is likely to grow to 11 billion and even more in the not too distant future. You cannot keep adding people to a fixed piece of real estate forever. The population growth is unsustainable yet people would rather pretend CO2 is the problem. It is impossible to bring the entire population of the planet to western first nation status, we do not have the resources, food, room. Switching to a higher cost energy source, wind and solar will not fix the real problem and will make it worse as the higher cost energy will decrease the money available to control the population.

Dug
Sep 21, 2014
The best news about climate marches and any other kind is that those people aren't home reproducing - unless they're doing it in the road Beatles style: http://phys.org/n...tml#nRlv And if phys.org was worth a whit - it would have a dedicated topic for over-population - instead of posting articles about its symptoms.

Sep 21, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Sep 21, 2014
Only a fool would think America can halt warming if it exists. Further, California alone has put more CO2 into the atmosphere this year with forest fires than all the power plants (coal and gas) in America for 5 years. If climate change is really your issue why aren't you doing something about that? They have put thousands of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. I know that doesn't bash conservatives, so you will do nothing. Jobs and growth aren't killing the plant liberal mismanagement is.

Sep 21, 2014
" California alone has put more CO2 into the atmosphere this year with forest fires than all the power plants (coal and gas) in America for 5 years."

Citations? Links?


Sep 21, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Sep 22, 2014
@Vietvet http://www.geotim...207.html only says "Although carbon dioxide from forest fires is a small fraction of the carbon dioxide produced by burning fossils fuels"


Thanks for the link but the point I was making was that Porgie made a claim free from any evidence, typical for deniers.

Sep 22, 2014
@dug says
The population is 7 billion and is likely to grow to 11 billion and even more in the not too distant future.
Don't worry your tiny little brain there dude, After 11 billion it's impossible for mankind to feed it self, so the population self-stabilizes with 11 billion starving people and more misery than mankind has ever known. A few haves. but 98% have starving nots. The rape of the earth for food. I love how deniers just gloss over how utterly horrible the human condition will be with over population and global warming. Your kids will love it.

Sep 22, 2014
@mbee1
... CO2 does not actually warm the planet as 800000 years of data from the ice core studies shows in great detail. Nor does the current run up in CO2 warm the planet, the current climate has not changed in 16 to 18 years depending on what data set you look at and the political leaning of the speaker. The IPCC claims 16 years. The correlation between CO2 level change and climate change is zero. Arctic ice is again growing and the Antarctica ice has been growing for years. Incidentally per NOAA data the hottest year in the US since 1895 was 1936, 78 years ago.

None of this is correct. All of this is wrong, and quite frankly, pretty stupid. As for 1936, the correct year is 1934, and no it's not the hottest year on record for the U.S., it's the 4th hottest year on record for the continental U.S. (behind 1998, 2006 & 2011, the latter being the correct hottest year for the U.S.). You can't even get your disinformation right.

Sep 22, 2014
Maybe we had better learn how to stop volcanic activity and avoid solar flare ups instead of blaming mankind and cow farts......there is much evidence of earth and it's environmental history and much of it is never discussed but earth is going to make it's own way because the planet is alive with so many various factors than man can do nothing about....

Sep 22, 2014
On this day of the 1 biilion man march to stop global warming and climate change

Hmm... 1 biilion eh. What did they put in that Kool-aid at the block party and how much did you have?

Sep 22, 2014
http://www.inform...9739.htm

todays nyc march was funded by banks and largely a parade of nonsense. i was there. hari-krishna music and people singing hallelujah. total joke.

Sep 22, 2014
The Deniers are losing. I will bet you none of them will admit to their grandkids THEY were part of the reason we did not save the Earth.

But get rid of the Koch Brothers and their ilk, and we could have clean energy soon. We already have the technologies, but they were not used because of the poor investments by the rich in Filthy Fuels.

Sep 22, 2014
Google this: Rockefellers to switch investments to 'clean energy'

Sep 26, 2014
"Ask the majority of climate scientists: Carbon pollution from dirty energy is the main cause of global warming." http://clmtr.lt/c/MTM0cd0cMJ

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