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IEA: Global CO2 emissions up by 1.0 Gt (3.2%) in 2011 to record high

Global CO2 emissions from fossil-fuel combustion reached a record high of 31.6 gigatonnes (Gt) in 2011, according to preliminary estimates from the International Energy Agency (IEA). This represents an increase of 1.0 Gt on 2010, or 3.2%. Coal accounted for 45% of total energy-related CO2 emissions in 2011, followed by oil (35%) and natural gas (20%).

The “450 Scenario” of the IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2011, which sets out an energy pathway consistent with a 50% chance of limiting the increase in the average global temperature to 2 °C, requires CO2 emissions to peak at 32.6 Gt no later than 2017, i.e. just 1.0 Gt above 2011 levels.

The 450 Scenario sees a decoupling of CO2 emissions from global GDP, but much still needs to be done to reach that goal as the rate of growth in CO2 emissions in 2011 exceeded that of global GDP, the IEA noted.

The new data provide further evidence that the door to a 2 °C trajectory is about to close.

—IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol

In 2011, a 6.1% increase in CO2 emissions in countries outside the OECD was only partly offset by a 0.6% reduction in emissions inside the OECD. China made the largest contribution to the global increase, with its emissions rising by 720 million tonnes (Mt), or 9.3%, primarily due to higher coal consumption. However, China’s carbon intensity—the amount of CO2 emitted per unit of GDP—fell by 15% between 2005 and 2011. Had these gains not been made, China’s CO2 emissions in 2011 would have been higher by 1.5 Gt, the IEA said.

India’s emissions rose by 140 Mt, or 8.7%, moving it ahead of Russia to become the fourth largest emitter behind China, the United States, and the European Union. Despite these increases, per-capita CO2 emissions in China and India still remain just 63% and 15% of the OECD average respectively.

CO2 emissions in the United States in 2011 fell by 92 Mt, or 1.7%, primarily due to ongoing switching from coal to natural gas in power generation and an exceptionally mild winter, which reduced the demand for space heating. US emissions have now fallen by 430 Mt (7.7%) since 2006, the largest reduction of all countries or regions.

This development has arisen from lower oil use in the transport sector (linked to efficiency improvements, higher oil prices and the economic downturn which has cut vehicle miles travelled) and a substantial shift from coal to gas in the power sector. CO2 emissions in the EU in 2011 were lower by 69 Mt, or 1.9%, as sluggish economic growth cut industrial production and a relatively warm winter reduced heating needs. By contrast, Japan’s emissions increased by 28 Mt, or 2.4%, as a result of a substantial increase in the use of fossil fuels in power generation post-Fukushima.



It seems obvious that to reduce GHG the world will have to:

1. reduce the number of coal fired power stations.

2. reduce the number of ICE in operation.

Both are difficult to do without a collective will to do so. Resistance to change, large financial interest groups and high initial cost are barriers to cross.


This IS distressing news and all the more reason to pay close attention to new alternatives coming to the mainstream:



This last announcement from NASA will disappoint some here. But human evolution progresses with or without the charms of old world overseers. This rather makes that obvious.


Time to start planting a bunch of trees?


Wouldn't be more effective to work on the major GHG sources?


It would be most effective to transfer taxes from economic activity and property to GHG and other pollutant emissions, but the use of thresholds and credits and such allows pols to pick the most remunerative winners rather than the most meritorious.

Roger Pham

With record-level CO2 emission year after year, watch out for more record-breaking temperatures! Let's the experiment continue!!! I feel sorry for those who has to work outdoor in the hot and humid summer in lower latitudes, and the poors who cannot afford air-conditioning. The hot and humid summers in many places are already unbearable, as outdoor temperatures reaching or even exceeding human body temperature of 98.6 F or 37 C, and the humidity is usually so high that sweating does not afford effective cooling.

With global warming exceeding 2 degrees C, that will spell major heat death in the dreaded future, and more pervasive heat-related BRAIN DAMAGE that won't be easy to discern, and is already happening today. Perhaps that is why it is so hard to make people really understand all the damaging effects of global warming and to understand that technologies are available to halt the global warming, TODAY, and that economic growth and material gain would be moot with accelerating brain damage and environmental destruction. Wait a minute, the switch to renewable energy will lead to massive economic growth and job creation that is desperately needed today.


Absolutely no time like the present to stop building outdated fission reactors and start down the renewable path. And that looks like what is happening with the latest offering from Randell Mills and Dr. Zawodny at NASA LaRC.

Thank goodness someone CARES about the energy crisis enough to introduce some disruptive new forms of technology (even if it crimps the oilcos profit plans.)



The “450 Scenario” of the IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2011, which sets out an energy pathway consistent with a 50% chance of limiting the increase in the average global temperature to 2 °C, requires CO2 emissions to peak at 32.6 Gt no later than 2017

With 2017 only 5 years away we need to act now. And that means we have use the technologies that we've had for the last 10 years or more (solar, wind, nuclear) and not wait for technologies that *may* come into the marketplace 10 or more years FROM now to save us.


Unfortunately for climate fanatics their tale is no longer told:


Can't say many have missed it.


This depresses even Joe Romm - Chief Climate Doomsayer.


You prefer that they cover Donald Trump?


No. How about some positive energy developments? The gloom and doom climate model is kaput.


Reel ignores the science and the facts, and bases his judgement on... media coverage.  What the corporate media covers is determined in large part by how the corporations see their interests.  I bet you haven't seen much about vote fraud enabled by computerized voting machines either.

Have there been ANY interviews about the trivial health impacts of the THREE Fukushima reactor meltdowns, compared to the tsunami itself?  How about the fact that the Fukushima Dai'ini and Onagawa plants came through in fine shape?  That's a positive energy development, but it's being spun completely backwards.  The result is that Japan and especially Germany are pursuing the opposite of the energy policies they ought to be, for themselves and the world.


The science is nuclear fission remains expensive and dangerous. The U.S. government (ie its taxpayers) have spent $50 billion to attempt cleanup of Hanford WA. They will spend another $100 billion and the next 30 years to finish the job - if ever.


80% of Japanese people favored this phase out of nukes. It's lousy energy - overly expensive and dangerous. The waste issue alone obviates the tiny climate benefit. Goodbye. Good riddance. In the west fission is D E A D.

Oh yeah, after $$250 billion and 60 years, hot fusion is also D E A D.


How many people have been killed by radiological effects in fission-power accidents in the last 20 years? Heck, go back to TMI. There's the Chernobyl Charlie Foxtrot, and then nothing. Nobody's ever going to build another RMBK or allow such silly operation of a plant again.

China is building AP-1000's for about half the US cost.  Nuclear power is cheap and safe; it's the US regulatory system that's expensive.

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