News / Science & Technology

Global Carbon Emissions Hit Record High in 2012

The cooling towers and chimneys from a coal-burning power station can be seen behind a man standing next to his car in a newly constructed residential area in Beijing, (File photo).
The cooling towers and chimneys from a coal-burning power station can be seen behind a man standing next to his car in a newly constructed residential area in Beijing, (File photo).
TEXT SIZE - +
Reuters
— China led a rise in global carbon dioxide emissions to a record high in 2012, more than offsetting falls in the United States and Europe, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Monday.
 
Worldwide CO2 emissions rose by 1.4 percent to 31.6 billion tons, according to estimates from the Paris-based IEA.
 
China is the biggest emitter and made the largest contribution to the global rise, spewing out an additional 300 million tons. But the gain was one of the lowest China has seen in a decade, reflecting its efforts to adopt renewable sources and improve energy efficiency.
 
In the United States, a switch from coal to gas in power generation helped reduce emissions by 200 million tons, bringing them back to the level of the mid-1990s.
 
Global carbon dioxide emissions, 2012Global carbon dioxide emissions, 2012
x
Global carbon dioxide emissions, 2012
Global carbon dioxide emissions, 2012
Even though the use of coal increased in some European countries last year due to low prices, emissions in Europe declined by 50 million tons because of the economic slowdown, growth in renewables, and emissions caps on industrial and power companies, the IEA said.
 
Japan's CO2 emissions increased by 70 million tons, as efforts to improve energy efficiency failed to offset increasing use of fossil fuels after the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011.
 
Temperature rises
 
Scientists say global average temperature rise needs to be  limited to below 2 degrees Celsius this century to prevent devastating climate effects like crop failure and melting glaciers.
 
That would only be possible if emission levels are kept to around 44 billion tons of CO2 equivalent by 2020.
 
However, the IEA said the data shows the world is on a path to an average temperature rise of between 3.6 and 5.3 degrees Celsius.
 
“Global energy-related greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 are projected to be nearly 4 billion tons higher than a level consistent with attaining the 2 degree target, highlighting the scale of the challenge still to be tackled just in this decade,” the agency said.
 
The IEA urged governments to quickly adopt four policies that would ensure climate goals could be reached without harming economic growth. They are: improving energy efficiency in buildings, industry and transport; limiting the construction and use of inefficient power plants; halving methane emissions; and partially phasing out fossil fuel subsidies.
 
These would reduce global energy-related emissions by 8 percent or 3.1 billion tons of CO2 equivalent in 2020, the IEA said.
 
“Delaying stronger climate action to 2020 would come at a cost: $1.5 trillion in low-carbon investments are avoided before 2020, but $5 trillion in additional investments would be required thereafter to get back on track,” the IEA said.
 
International negotiators are meeting in Bonn, Germany, until Friday for U.N. talks aimed at getting a new global climate treaty, which would cut emissions, signed by 2015.
 
However, the talks got off to a slow start last week due to attempts by three nations to amend one of the meeting's many agendas to discuss how future decisions should be made.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid