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Despite economic meltdown, carbon emissions keep rising

CO2 EmissionsThe global financial crisis might have put the brakes to rising carbon dioxide emissions, but it only slowed them down rather than stopping them.

In fact, fossil fuel-related carbon emissions rose by 2.2 per cent between 2007 and 2008, according to new research published in the journal Environmental Research Letters. Between 2003 and 2007, the rate increase averaged 3.7 per cent a year.

The study from scientists in Norway and Zealand also finds that coal has now bypassed oil as the largest source of global carbon dioxide emissions, largely because of the large growth in exports from China. While China is now the largest producer of greenhouse gases, India’s emissions rates saw the highest growth rate in emissions over the past two years, the researchers found.

They also noted that total greenhouse gas emissions exceeding most of the scenarios considered by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its most recent report in 2007.

“In 2008 global fossil fuel CO2 emissions were 8.8 (gigatonnes of carbon per year) and this is higher than all main IPCC 2007 scenarios, except one,” the researchers write. “Since 2006 the CO2 emissions from coal were higher than from oil, thus reversing the dominance of global CO2 emissions from oil over the last two decades. This trend also continues in 2008 with a slight reduction in the fossil fuel CO2 emissions from oil and a significant increase in the CO2 emissions from coal. The overall trend for 2008 is an estimated increase of 2.2% in the fossil fuel CO2 emissions despite the onset of the global financial depression in that year.”


  • Carey
    Posted November 16, 2009 at 3:46 am

    To Guri,

    A paper by Peters and Hertwich from a couple of years ago estimated that China ‘exported’ 18% of its emissions in products sold to other countries for the year of 2001. The US was estimated to import 7% more emissions embodied in exports. Of course, if you’ve seen a graph of coal power generation in China since 2001, you know it has about doubled since then. CO2 emissions from coal in China were about 2,500 Mt in 2001, and 4,500 in 2005 (using EIA data from the US Dept. of Energy).

    Glenn P. Peters and Edgar G. Hertwich
    “CO2 Embodied in International Trade with Implications for Global Climate Policy.” Environmental Science and Technology, 2007, 42 (5), 1401.

  • Guri
    Posted November 7, 2009 at 3:25 am

    I would like to know the statistics which tells me how much china’s greenhouse gas emission is caused by the manufacturing plants which are producing goods for western countries or rather I would say for all the world. Similarly for India too.


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