2010 saw the largest ever increase in greenhouse gas emissions


Year on year the human race is just not getting the message. China jumped past the U.S. as the world’s largest polluter in 2010 which is a dubious distinction at best. Spewing CO2 into the atmosphere is not a race where there are any winners. The Chinese are talking the talk at least when it comes to climate change. Meanwhile, here in the U.S., many of our Republican politicians are arguing that humankind is in no way responsible for the warming we are witnessing. Worse than that, the politicians are controlling the argument by saying that we have to choose between jobs and the environment.

Here’s an article about the jump in greenhouse gases from the Associated Press (Seth Borenstein) via USA Today. From the article:

The new figures for 2010 mean that levels of greenhouse gases are higher than the worst case scenario outlined by climate experts just four years ago. “The more we talk about the need to control emissions, the more they are growing,” said John Reilly, co-director of MIT’s Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change.

The world pumped about 564 million more tons (512 million metric tons) of carbon into the air in 2010 than it did in 2009. That’s an increase of 6%. That amount of extra pollution eclipses the individual emissions of all but three countries — China, the United States and India, the world’s top producers of greenhouse gases. It is a “monster” increase that is unheard of, said Gregg Marland, a professor of geology at Appalachian State University, who has helped calculate Department of Energy figures in the past…

India and China are huge users of coal. Burning coal is the biggest carbon source worldwide and emissions from that jumped nearly 8% in 2010. “The good news is that these economies are growing rapidly so everyone ought to be for that, right?” Reilly said Thursday. “Broader economic improvements in poor countries has been bringing living improvements to people. Doing it with increasing reliance on coal is imperiling the world.”

But Reilly and University of Victoria climate scientist Andrew Weaver found something good in recent emissions figures. The developed countries that ratified the 1997 Kyoto Protocol greenhouse gas limiting treaty have reduced their emissions overall since then and have achieved their goals of cutting emissions to about 8 percent below 1990 levels. The U.S. did not ratify the agreement. In 1990, developed countries produced about 60% of the world’s greenhouse gases, now it’s probably less than 50%, Reilly said.

Here’s an article about the Chinese passing the U.S. in 2010 from Michael McCarthy writing for The Independent. From the article:

Global CO2 emissions in 2010 reached 33.51 billion tonnes, up from 31.63 billion tonnes in 2009 – an increase of nearly 6 per cent. This is believed to be the highest-ever percentage increase year on year, despite growth in many industrial economies being sluggish or non-existent.

However, the figures from the US Department of Energy show clearly that it is the surging Chinese economy that is driving the growth: China’s emissions in 2010 were 8.15 billion tonnes, up from 7.46 billion tonnes the year before – a 9.3 per cent increase in 12 months.

The 694-million-tonne increase alone dwarfs all the carbon emissions that Britain produces in a year. China now accounts for 24.3 per cent of global carbon emissions and has taken over the role, held by America for decades, of the world’s biggest polluter.

The US, whose emissions totalled 5.49 billion tonnes in 2010, up from 5.27 billion tonnes in 2009 – an increase of 4.1 per cent – now accounts for 16 per cent of emissions worldwide. So although the Chinese did not overtake the US in carbon emissions until 2007, their share of the world total is now half as much again.

Between them, the two industrial giants produce 40 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gases, and neither shows any sign of slowing down.

The figures, produced by the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Centre of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, show another significant trend: India, the world’s third-biggest carbon polluter, is rapidly catching up. In 2010, its annual emissions passed two billion tonnes of CO2 for the first time, totalling 2.06 billion tonnes. The increase of 178,330 million tonnes on the year before was 9.4 per cent, a growth rate now exceeding China’s.

Where are your bicycles? More climate change coverage here and here.

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