Data from the U.S. Department of Energy indicate that in 2010, the world emitted 9.1 billion metric tons of carbon, a six percent increase over 2009 levels. As the article from the Associated Press points out, this is the largest single year jump ever, and: ‘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 (in the last IPCC report*).’
Clearly, any illusion that the bleak global economic situation could potentially give us some breathing room for enacting policies to lower carbon emissions should be put aside. Emission levels have come roaring back even as the global economy is teetering.
And in spite of growing evidence of the risks of unchecked climate change, the world has not yet summoned the political will and the moral courage to take strong action.
The sobering data on emissions gives a renewed sense of urgency to the next round of international climate talks set to commence in Durban, South Africa, at the end of November.
China and the United States, as the world’s largest emitters, have to step up to the plate. There have been some encouraging signs from China lately. I wish I could say the same of the U.S.
**Updated on 11/09/2011 to correct an error. 2010 emissions were 9.1 billion metric tons of carbon (not carbon dioxide). That translates to over 33.5 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide.
Posted in: Global Warming
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