In a report entitled “Long-term trend in global CO2 emissions” prepared by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre and PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, it has been found that global emission of carbon dioxide (CO2) have increased by 45% between 1990 and 2010 and reached an all-time high of 33 billion tonnes by 2010, all despite increased energy efficiency, nuclear energy and a growing renewable energy industry.
Sometimes it makes sense to take the facts of a story or press release and put them into a more understandable context. Other times, however, it is more applicable – for the author and reader alike – to just provide readers with the full text of a report’s release.
“The report, which is based on recent results from the Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR) and latest statistics for energy use and other activities, shows large national differences between industrialised countries. Over the period 1990-2010, in the EU-27 and Russia CO2 emissions decreased by 7% and 28% respectively, while the USA’s emissions increased by 5% and the Japanese emissions remained more or less constant. The industrialised countries that have ratified the Kyoto Protocol (so called ‘ratifying Annex 1 countries’) and the USA [who has always refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol, claiming it is weak and powerless], in 1990 caused about two-thirds of global CO2 emissions. Their share of global emissions has now fallen to less than half the global total.”
“Continued growth in the developing countries and emerging economies and economic recovery by the industrialised countries are the main reasons for a record breaking 5.8% increase in global CO2 emissions between 2009 and 2010. Most major economies contributed to this increase, led by China, USA, India and EU-27 with increases of 10%, 4%, 9% and 3% respectively. The increase is significant even when compared to 2008, when global CO2 emissions were at their highest before the global financial crisis. It can be noted that in EU-27, CO2 emissions remain lower in absolute terms than they were before the crisis (4.0 billion tonnes in 2010 as compared to 4.2 billion tonnes in 2007).”
“At present, the USA emits 16.9 tonnes 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 are still below the EU-27 average, but now equal those of Italy. It should be noted that the average figures for China and EU-27 hide significant regional differences. Long term global growth in CO2 emissions continues to be driven by power generation and road transport, both in industrial and developing countries. Globally, they account for about 40% and 15% respectively of the current total and both have consistent long-term annual growth rates of between 2.5% and 5%.”
“Throughout the Kyoto Protocol period, industrialised countries have made efforts to change their energy sources mix. Between 1990 and 2010 they reduced their dependence on coal (from 25% to 20% of total energy production) and oil (from 38% to 36.5%), and shifted towards natural gas (which increased from 23% to 27 %), nuclear energy (from 8% to 9%) and renewable energy (from 6.5% to 8%). In addition they made progress in energy savings, for example by insulation of buildings, more energy-efficient end-use devices and higher fuel efficiencies.”
This report is desperately sobering. Despite major efforts on the part of many countries, businesses and organisations, the sheer volume of carbon dioxide being released continues to rise. There is simply too much demand for power and transport, and there are too many countries who are unable to make the leaps and bounds in alternative energies necessary to stem the overall increase of carbon dioxide.
Here’s hoping that the next twenty years represent a shift in our ability to not only change the way that we do things in the western world, but help others do the same in theirs.