Global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2)increased by 45 % between 1990 and 2010, and reached an all-time high of 33 billion tons in 2010. Increased energy efficiency, nuclear energy and the growing contribution of renewable energy are not compensating for the globally increasing demand for power and transport, which is strongest in developing countries. This increase took place despite emission reductions in industrialized countries during the same period. Even though different countries show widely variable emission trends, industrialized countries are likely to meet the collective Kyoto target of a 5.2 % reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2012 as a group, partly thanks to large emission reductions from economies in transition in the early nineties and more recent reductions due to the 2008-2009 recession. These figures were published today in the report "Long-term trend in global CO2 emissions", prepared by the European Commission's Joint Research Center and PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency.
Over the period 1990-2010, in the European Union 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 industrialized countries that have ratified the Kyoto Protocol (so called ratifying Annex 1 countries) and the USA, 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 industrialized 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 European Union 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 Europe, CO2 emissions remain lower in absolute terms than they were before the crisis (4.0 billion tons in 2010 as compared to 4.2 billion tons in 2007).
At present, the USA emits 16.9 tons CO2 per capita per year, over twice as much as Europe with 8.1 tons. By comparison, Chinese per capita CO2 emissions of 6.8 tons are still below the Europe average, but now equal those of Italy. It should be noted that the average figures for China and Europe hide significant regional differences.
After a 1% decline in 2009, global carbon dioxide (CO2)emissions increased by more than 5% in 2010, which is unprecedented in the last two decades, but similar to the increase in 1976 when the global economy was recovering from the first oil crisis and subsequent stock market crash. CO2 emissions went up in most of the major economies, led by China and India with increases of 10% and 9% respectively. The average annual growth rate in CO2 emissions over the last three years of the credit crunch, including a 1% increase in 2008 when the first impacts became visible, is 1.7%, almost equal to the long-term annual average of 1.9% for the preceding two decades back to 1990. However, most industrialized countries have not recovered fully from their decreases in emissions of 7 to 12% in 2009.
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