Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions Rose 3.2%, Hit New High in 2011

The International Energy Agency has released some preliminary data on global greenhouse gas emissions for 2011 and the news isn't good. IEA says emissions rose 3.2% last year, with a 9.3% increase in China offsetting declines in the US and EU (Reuters).

The news comes as Climate Action Tracker reports that current emissions cut pledges are well short of what is needed to keep temperature rise below the critical 2°C threshold. Business Week reports that current commitments mean emissions will rise from 31.6 gigatons today to 53 gigatons by 2020, 9 gigatons higher than is needed to control temperature rise.

Our current level of greenhouse gas emissions increase means that temperature rise of at least 3.5°C are likely.

Some more of Climate Action Tracker's assessments on where we heading:

  • The US now expects to have lower emissions in 2020, but mainly due to effects of the recessions and a shift from coal to gas, driven by low gas prices. The US’s two new sets of regulations –on coal-fired power plants (implemented), and on fuel efficiency in vehicles (implemented up to 2016 and planned for 2025), would still leave it some 350 MtCO2e short of its already inadequate pledge, a gap that is the size of half of Canada’s annual emissions.  The US Environmental Protection Agency itself has admitted that its standards for fossil fuel fired power plants “will result in negligible CO2 emission changes, energy impacts, quantified benefits, costs, and economic impacts by 2020."
  • Brazil’s deforestation rates are currently at a record low, but the proposed new forest code, if adopted, could reverse this trend. It would unequivocally make it harder for Brazil to meet its ambitious emissions reduction target as well as its reductions in deforestation rates. Scientific analysis shows that the code could increase its emissions gap substantially.  President Dilma is expected to make a decision on the code tomorrow.
  • While Mexico has introduced solid new framework climate legislation, it has yet to implement actual policies and measures to reach its pledge – at the moment it is set to achieve only 12% of its pledged 30% reduction from BAU by 2020.
  • It remains to be seen whether Japan will use the opportunity of all of its nuclear reactors being shut down to decarbonize its electricity sector. First steps towards a support system for renewables with the just adopted feed-in tariff are encouraging.
  • Korea’s newly announced ETS means it could meet its pledge if the cap is set tightly enough and the remaining open rules are set in the right way. But the details have yet to be decided. Currently there are too many open questions to evaluate the effectiveness of the scheme.

Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions Rose 3.2%, Hit New High in 2011
Large increases in China offset decreases in the US and Europe, new data from the IEA shows.

Related Content on