Global CO2 Emissions Reach All Time High in 2010 After Recession Dip

smokestacks photo

Photo: quinn.anya, Flickr, CC
We're Not Doing Well
According to the latest numbers from the International Energy Agency (IEA), Energy-related carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2010 were the highest in history. They had dipped a bit because of the global recession, but we've now surpassed the previous record from 2008. The truly scary thing is that: "In addition, the IEA has estimated that 80% of projected emissions from the power sector in 2020 are already locked in, as they will come from power plants that are currently in place or under construction today." This makes it much harder to limit temperature rising more than what is considered to be the 'safe' range.
smokestacks photo

Photo: otodo, Flickr, CC
After a dip in 2009 caused by the global financial crisis, emissions are estimated to have climbed to a record 30.6 Gigatonnes (Gt), a 5% jump from the previous record year in 2008, when levels reached 29.3 Gt. [...]

"Our latest estimates are another wake-up call," said Dr Birol. "The world has edged incredibly close to the level of emissions that should not be reached until 2020 if the 2ºC target is to be attained. Given the shrinking room for manœuvre 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."

In terms of fuels, 44% of the estimated CO2 emissions in 2010 came from coal, 36% from oil, and 20% from natural gas. (source)

Big changes are needed, starting with getting rid of coal. It is the most carbon-intensive source of energy, as well as releasing all kinds of other pollutants in the air, water, and soil. The transportation sector also needs to get off oil and start using much cleaner sources of energy as well as give people alternatives to individual cars (walkable cities, lots of safe bike lanes, fast and reliable mass transit, etc).

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