Monday, 31 January 2011

Worldwide CO2 emissions

A fascinating graphical report in the Guardian online shows the CO2 emissions from energy use in 2009 from every country in the world.  Here is a link to the article.

The data comes from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) and does not reflect total Greenhouse Gas emissions from human activities.  The principal omissions are carbon (as CO2 and methane) released from tropical deforestation and other land use changes and the agricultural production of CO2, methane and nitrous oxide.  Taken as a whole, global greenhouse gas emissions from human activities equal approx. 50 billion Tonnes CO2-e per annum.

What it does show is the phenomenal growth in emissions from China.  A decade ago, in 2000, China emitted 2.8 billion Tonnes of  CO2 from energy use.  In 2009, the country's emissions had risen by a further 4.9 billion Tonnes to 7.7 billion Tonnes, a quarter of the world's total carbon emissions from energy use.  CO2 emissions from energy use in Asia and Oceania as a whole have grown by 6 Billion Tonnes, from 7.2 Billion to 13.3 Billion Tonnes over this period.

Over the same period, the combined emissions from energy use in both Europe and North America fell just 5% from 11.3 Billion Tonnes to 10.7 Billion Tonnes CO2.

The consequence, not seen in this graphic of current energy use, is that the world's annual emissions from energy use have risen by 6.6 Billion Tonnes CO2 since 2000 - more than a quarter of the total emissions in that year.  As reported by BP and other oil companies in January, their outlook is that exponential growth of carbon emissions from fossil fuel consumption will continue unchecked for the next 40 years.  If they are right then catastrophic, runaway climate change is guaranteed.

As Ban Ki-Moon said in Davos last week, the world's economic model is environmental suicide.

Mr Ban's solution, endorsed by the delegates at this session of the World Economic Forum on Friday, is to "tear down the walls between a green agenda and a growth agenda.  There is no time to waste."

In response, the president of Finland, Tarja Halonen, called for a "modern trinity" of growth, social justice and environmental responsibility - the triple-bottom-line of responsible development.

Even the President and CEO of WalMart, Mike Duke, chipped in, "Business should not see a conflict between doing what is right for business and what is right for the world".

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