- Category: Politics
20 Jul 2012
- Published on Friday, 20 July 2012 10:02
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Global greenhouse gas emissions reached an all-time high in 2011, rising by 3 percent to 34 billion tons, according to a new report by the European Commission’s Joint Research Center and the Netherlands’ Environmental Assessment Agency.
"If the current global trend of increasing carbon emissions continues, cumulative emissions will surpass this limit within the next two decades," said the Joint Research Center in a statement.
The top emitter in 2011 was China, which now has emissions that put it in the range of 6 to 19 metric tons for every person, a figure equal to that of major industrial countries.
China was the origin of 29 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions with a 9 percent increase in 2011 to 7.2 metric tons of carbon emissions per capita. The second largest emitter in 2011 was the United States which had 7.5 metric tons per capita or 16 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. However, this marks a decline in the U.S.’s emissions by 2 percent from the previous year.
The European Union is responsible for 11 percent of emissions, India for 6 percent, Russia for 5 percent and Japan for 4 percent.
Member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development account for one-third of global emissions, while fast-growing economies China and India together comprise the other third.
The United Nations has set a target to limit the rise in average global temperature to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
The Trends in Global Carbon Emissions 2012 report suggests that nations should not emit more than 1,000 to 1,500 billion tons of carbon between 2000 and 2050 if the world is to avoid a dangerous increase in average global temperatures.
An estimated 420 billion tons on carbon has been contributed to the atmosphere in the past decade, the study findings showed.
Renewable Energy as a mitigation tool
On the other hand, the report also noted that the year saw growth in renewable energy use.
Overall renewable sources supplied 16.7 percent of global final energy consumption in 2011 and accounted for nearly half of the estimated 208 gigawatts of electric capacity added globally in that year.
By the end of 2011, renewable power capacity reached more than 1,360 GW worldwide, 8 percent higher than in 2010. This meant renewables met around 20.3 percent of global energy demand in 2011.
Total global wind power output reached 238 GW in 2011, which is more than 20 percent higher than 2010, whereas total hydropower output increased by only 0.6 percent in 2011 – the slowest growth rate since 2003.
Global solar photovoltaic output grew by 75 percent in 2011, with about 69.2 GW, capable of producing on average 85 terawatt-hours of electricity every year.
According to the study, one of the key mitigation options is the use of “new” renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and biofuels.
Global renewable energy sources currently save about 800 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually. – Catherine Dominguez