|The increase in global emissions. Click to enlarge.|
Global carbon dioxide emissions continue to rise, with the world producing 16% percent more CO2 in 2003 (the year of the most recent comprehensive data) than in 1990, according to the Little Green Data Book 2007, just published by the World Bank.
Combined emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels and cement manufacturing now originate in equal shares from the industrialized and the developing worlds, according to the report. In 1960, low and middle income countries only accounted for one third of world emissions.
Emissions have been growing faster in the poorer countries, the report says, especially in East and South Asia. However, the upward trend is also a feature of high income countries.
The United States and Japan show very high increases in CO2 emissions: 20% and 15% respectively between 1990 and 2003. The European Monetary Union countries grew 3%. As a group, rich countries are largely off-track with respect to the Kyoto commitments, which established an average reduction of 5.2% from 1990 levels by 2012. The only exception is constituted by the countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, where emissions have gone down owing to the recession of the 1990s.
According to the report, among the group of developing countries, China and India stand out as major emitters. Carbon dioxide emissions in China have increased by 1,700 million tons between 1990 and 2003 (73% more), and in India by 700 million tons (88% more). While contributing heavily to the world’s total, emissions from China and India are very low in per-capita terms. The average Chinese still emits 16% of the average citizen from the United States, and the average Indian emits 6% of the United States average.
Carbon dioxide emissions stem mainly from the combustion of fossil fuels and the manufacture of cement. The Little Green Data Book 2007 shows that this is true especially for industrialized countries and a group of fast growing developing economies, such as China and India.
Fossil fuels (i.e. oil, natural gas, or coal) are used to generate 66% of electricity worldwide. In the Middle East, the share of fossil fuels in electricity generation is 93%, and in East Asia and the Pacific and in South Asia it is 82%. At the other end of the spectrum is Latin America and the Caribbean, with 38% of its electricity produced from fossil fuels.
In the developing world, greenhouse gases emissions are mainly originated from agriculture and land use changes such as deforestation. For example, a recent report titled “Indonesia and Climate Change” and published by the World Bank and the British government, shows that deforestation puts Indonesia as the world’s third largest emitter after the United States and China. (DFID and World Bank, “Indonesia and Climate Change”, Working Paper on Current Status and Policies, March 2007)
The Little Green Data Book 2007 shows that deforestation has essentially been a feature of the poorer countries. Between 1990 and 2005, nearly 45,000 square kilometers of forest were lost in low income countries (corresponding to an annual deforestation rate of 0.5%) and 38,000 square kilometers in lower middle income countries (annual deforestation: 0.16%).
Reducing deforestation partly entails providing access to electricity to local communities. In Sub-Saharan Africa, electric power consumption per capita is 550 kWh, which is seven times smaller than the average for high income countries, where electricity consumption per capita is 3,454 kWh. Better access to electricity, in turn, will also mean lower reliance on traditional fuels. Currently, wood fuels are still the primary source of energy for approximately 2 billion people in poor countries. Solid biomass is associated with respiratory problems caused by indoor smoke. Most of the victims are infants, children, and women from poor rural families. Acute respiratory infections in children and chronic pulmonary disease in women are a common feature.