Global carbon emissions return to record highs
ENERGY | 31.05.2011
The goal to limit climate change to two degrees of warming is in jeopardy, a new report has found. Due to resurgent economies, energy-related emissions reached record highs last year. The IEA says it's a 'wake-up call.'
Efforts to contain carbon dioxide emissions took a hit in 2010, as a record amount of greenhouse gases stemming from energy production were dumped into the atmosphere during the year.
Resurgent economies and rapid growth in developing nations like China and India contributed to the peak, the International Energy Agency (IEA) announced on Monday in Paris.
Emissions climbed to a record 30.6 gigatonnes (Gt), which is about 5 percent more than the previous record year in 2008, the IEA said.
The development brings to an end a short dip in global emissions brought about by the global economic downturn.
It also spells bad news for international pledges to limit global warming to 2.0 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels this century.
The pledge was most recently affirmed at the 2010 climate summit in Cancun.
Scientists fear that surpassing the 2-degree threshold risks leading to runaway climate change. They say the consequences will include more flooding, harsher storms, rising sea levels, species extinction and reduced food security.
Fatih Birol, chief economist of the IEA, called the agency's estimate "another wake up call."
"The world has edged incredibly close to the level of emissions that should not be reached until 2020 if the 2 degrees Celsius target is to be attained," he said in a release.
To make matters worse, 80 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions projected for 2020 are "locked in" through existing or under-construction fossil fuel power plants.
"Given the shrinking room for maneuver in 2020, unless bold and decisive decisions are made very soon, it will be extremely challenging to succeed in achieving this global goal agreed in Cancun," Birol added. more
Worst ever carbon emissions leave climate on the brink
Exclusive: Record rise, despite recession, means 2C target almost out of reach
Fiona Harvey, Environment correspondent
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 29 May 2011
Greenhouse gas emissions increased by a record amount last year, to the highest carbon output in history, putting hopes of holding global warming to safe levels all but out of reach, according to unpublished estimates from the International Energy Agency.
The shock rise means the goal of preventing a temperature rise of more than 2 degrees Celsius – which scientists say is the threshold for potentially "dangerous climate change" – is likely to be just "a nice Utopia", according to Fatih Birol, chief economist of the IEA. It also shows the most serious global recession for 80 years has had only a minimal effect on emissions, contrary to some predictions.
Last year, a record 30.6 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide poured into the atmosphere, mainly from burning fossil fuel – a rise of 1.6Gt on 2009, according to estimates from the IEA regarded as the gold standard for emissions data.
"I am very worried. This is the worst news on emissions," Birol told the Guardian. "It is becoming extremely challenging to remain below 2 degrees. The prospect is getting bleaker. That is what the numbers say."
Professor Lord Stern of the London School of Economics, the author of the influential Stern Report into the economics of climate change for the Treasury in 2006, warned that if the pattern continued, the results would be dire. "These figures indicate that [emissions] are now close to being back on a 'business as usual' path. According to the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's] projections, such a path ... would mean around a 50% chance of a rise in global average temperature of more than 4C by 2100," he said. moreAnd just to show that there are no limits on bureaucratic uselessness, we have the pronouncements from a UN official who claims that bad data should not lead to "fatalism." I mean, we cannot have bad data on carbon emissions lead to better economic thinking or better hardware to power our societies, now can we. Take anything that might possibly work off the table and what is left--another futile set of meetings. Meanwhile, back in USA, we have politicians who think that somehow banning incandescent light bulbs is the first step on the road to totalitarianism. You cannot make this shit up!
World must face 'inconvenient truth' of emissions rise, says UN climate chief
Figures showing efforts to control emissions have had little effect should not lead to fatalism, says Christiana Figueres
Fiona Harvey, environment correspondent
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 31 May 2011 11.15 BST
The fastest-ever rise in greenhouse gas emissions, revealed by the Guardian on Monday, is an "inconvenient truth" the world must face, the UN's climate change chief has said. But she added that the data should not lead to fatalism that the problem is impossible to tackle.
The figures showing that efforts to control greenhouse gases have had little effect are likely to stretch already strained relations between developed and developing countries over climate change to breaking point in the next two weeks in rows over who is responsible for the fastest ever rise in greenhouse gas emissions.
Most of the record rise in emissions came from rapidly emerging economies, including China, but there is growing evidence that the west has "exported" billions of tonnes of its emissions by relying on imports from the developing world.
In advance of crucial United Nations climate talks in Bonn next week, the UN's climate chief tried to heal rifts and revive hopes of a breakthrough after news that carbon dioxide emissions from energy are now at record levels despite 20 years of climate negotiations.
Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and the official responsible for overseeing the talks, said of the emissions estimates: "This is the inconvenient truth of where human-generated greenhouse gas emissions are projected to go without much stronger international action now and into the future."
But she issued a strong call to governments: "I won't hear that this is impossible. Governments must make it possible for society, business and science to get this job done." moreBut hey, maybe things will get so bad even the idiots will have to admit something is wrong.
The Sky Really Is Falling
Posted on May 30, 2011
By Chris Hedges
The rapid and terrifying acceleration of global warming, which is disfiguring the ecosystem at a swifter pace than even the gloomiest scientific studies predicted a few years ago, has been confronted by the power elite with two kinds of self-delusion. There are those, many of whom hold elected office, who dismiss the science and empirical evidence as false. There are others who accept the science surrounding global warming but insist that the human species can adapt. Our only salvation—the rapid dismantling of the fossil fuel industry—is ignored by both groups. And we will be led, unless we build popular resistance movements and carry out sustained acts of civil disobedience, toward collective self-annihilation by dimwitted pied pipers and fools.
Those who concede that the planet is warming but insist we can learn to live with it are perhaps more dangerous than the buffoons who decide to shut their eyes. It is horrifying enough that the House of Representatives voted 240-184 this spring to defeat a resolution that said that “climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for public health and welfare.” But it is not much of an alternative to trust those who insist we can cope with the effects while continuing to burn fossil fuels.
Horticulturalists are busy planting swamp oaks and sweet gum trees all over Chicago to prepare for weather that will soon resemble that of Baton Rouge. That would be fine if there was a limit to global warming in sight. But without plans to rapidly dismantle the fossil fuel industry, something no one in our corporate state is contemplating, the heat waves of Baton Rouge will be a starting point for a descent that will ultimately make cities like Chicago unlivable. The false promise of human adaptability to global warming is peddled by the polluters’ major front group, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which informed the Environmental Protection Agency that “populations can acclimatize to warmer climates via a range of behavioral, physiological, and technological adaptations.” This bizarre theory of adaptability has been embraced by the Obama administration as it prepares to exploit the natural resources in the Arctic. Secretary of State Hillary Clintonannounced recently that melting of sea ice “will result in more shipping, fishing and tourism, and the possibility to develop newly accessible oil and gas reserves.” Now that’s something to look forward to.
“It is good that at least those guys are taking it seriously, far more seriously than the federal government is taking it,” said the author and environmental activist Bill McKibben of the efforts in cities such as Chicago to begin to adapt to warmer temperatures. “At least they understand that they have some kind of problem coming at them. But they are working off the science of five or six years ago, which is still kind of the official science that the International Climate Change negotiations are working off of. They haven’t begun to internalize the idea that the science has shifted sharply. We are no longer talking about a long, slow, gradual, linear warming, but something that is coming much more quickly and violently. Seven or eight years ago it made sense to talk about putting permeable concrete on the streets. Now what we are coming to realize is that the most important adaptation we can do is to stop putting carbon in the atmosphere. If we don’t, we are going to produce temperature rises so high that there is no adapting to them.” more