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UNFCCC Reports Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trending Upward; Transport a Key Problem

Percentage change in greenhouse emissions from industrialized countries, 1990-2004. Click to enlarge.

The secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) today released new data showing an upward trend in greenhouse gas emissions of industrialized countries (Annex I parties to the UNFCCC) in the period 2000–2004.

Overall, according to the report, emissions of industrialized countries decreased by 3.3% in the period 1990–2004. However, this was mostly due to a 36.8% decrease in emissions on the part of economies in transition (EITs) of eastern and central Europe (EITs). Within the same time period, the greenhouse gas emissions of the other industrialized Parties of the Convention grew by 11.0%.

The UNFCCC report Greenhouse Gas Data, 2006 constitutes the first complete set of data submitted by all 41 industrialized Parties of the Convention to the Bonn-based secretariat.

The worrying fact is that EITs, which were mostly responsible for the overall emissions reductions of industrialized countries so far, as a group have experienced an emission increase of 4.1 per cent in the period 2000-2004. This means that industrialized countries will need to intensify their efforts to implement strong policies which reduce greenhouse gas emissions

—UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer

Emissions from transportation on the rise. Click to enlarge.

In particular, transport remains a sector where emission reductions are urgently required but seem to be especially difficult to achieve. Emissions from transportation grew by 23.9% from 1990 to 2004.

According to the released data, the joint emissions of the industrialized countries that are Parties to the Kyoto Protocol were 15.3% below the 1990 level in 2004, while the individual performance of countries varied. The Kyoto Protocol presently requires 35 industrialized countries and the European Community to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 5% below 1990 levels in its first commitment period between 2008 and 2012.

Some points that emerge from the data are:

  • The GHG decrease from 1990–2004 for Kyoto partner countries is combined with economic growth.

  • Greenhouse gas intensity continues to decrease—there are increasingly fewer GHG emissions per GDP unit.

  • The US is the industrialized country with greatest GHG emissions (39% in 2004); GHG intensity in the US continues to decline. From 1990 to 2004, GDP increased 51.2% and GHG emissions increased 15.8%; From 2000 to 2004, GDP increased 11.7% and GHG emissions increased 1.3%.

  • Germany is the non-EIT country with the greatest emission decreases since 1990. From 1990 to 2004, German GDP increased 28.6% while GHG emissions dropped 17.2%. From 2000 to 2004, German GDP rose 2.5% while GHG emissions dropped 0.7%.

  • Russia is the industrialized country with 2nd greatest GHG emissions (11% in 2004) and is the EIT country with greatest emissions. From 1990 to 2004, Russian GDP dropped 13.1% and GHG emissions dropped 32%. From 2000 to 2004, Russian GDP increased 26.1% and GHG emissions increased 4.1%.

  • Turkey is a new Annex I member (since 2004) and has very rapid economic growth. Turkish GDP increased 65.9% from 1990 to 2004 with GHG emissions increases of 72.6%. From 2000 to 2004, Turkish GDP grew 16.4% while GHG emissions increased 5.3%.

The UN’s chief climate change official pointed out that despite the emission growth in some countries in the period 2000-2004, Parties of the Kyoto Protocol stand a good chance of meeting their individual emissions reduction commitments if they speedily apply the additional domestic mitigation measures they are planning and use the Kyoto Protocol’s market-based flexibility mechanisms.

One promising option for meeting the Kyoto Protocol targets is the use of the clean development mechanism (CDM). The CDM permits industrialized countries to invest in sustainable development projects that reduce emissions in developing countries and thereby generate tradable emission credits. To date, around 375 CDM projects have been registered, with a total estimated emission reduction potential of more than 600 million tonnes. More than 900 more projects are in the pipeline.

The total estimated emission reduction potential of all projects currently in the CDM pipeline in the period up to 2012 stands at around 1.4 billion tonnes, which amounts to about 12% of what industrialized Kyoto Protocol Parties emitted in 1990.

Last week, the UNFCCC launched the second project-based mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol: joint implementation (JI), which allows developed countries to acquire carbon credits from greenhouse gas emission reducing projects undertaken in other industrialized countries.

In the countries that are members of the European Union, the use of the EU emissions trading scheme is growing in importance. We are looking forward to emissions trading between all countries with emission targets under the Kyoto Protocol when the first commitment period starts in 2008.

At the same time, it is clear that further global action on climate change is urgently needed to generate significant investment flows into clean technology, making use of existing and new market mechanisms.

—Secretary Yvo de Boer

At the United Nations Climate Change Conference - Nairobi 2006 (6 to 17 November), negotiations on the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol will continue, along with a dialogue on the future of the climate change process under the UNFCCC.




This is interesting. Found this article earlier what I read here.

The European Union, self-styled global champion in the battle against climate change, is falling woefully short of its targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions and will need to take radical measures to achieve them, new projections have shown.

The European commission said that, based on current measures and policies, the emissions of the EU's original 15 members will be just 0.6% below 1990 levels by 2010. The EU-15 countries are committed under the Kyoto protocol to an 8% cut on 1990 levels by 2012.

My opinion is that it doesn't matter what policies that politicians want to implement as long as there is no practical replacement for fossil fuels for energy production. This is why the Kyoto Protocol is nothing but a band-aid, because as noted, absolute GHG emissions are still increasing even with increasing efficiency (see Jevon's Paradox).


absolute GHG emissions are still increasing even with increasing efficiency (see Jevon's Paradox)

No, see "Population Growth".


And economic growth.


"According to the released data, the joint emissions of the industrialized countries that are Parties to the Kyoto Protocol were 15.3% below the 1990 level in 2004"

I hardly think that this demonstrates that Kyoto or actions by government are hopeless. Policies do matter. The United States, however, has increased its co2 emissions since 1990 by almost 20%. Overall GHG emissions, as noted above, increased by more than 15%. The U.S. failed to sign up to Kyoto and it has refused to implement significant policies, such as higher gas taxes, to decrease emissions.

The issue, for now, isn't whether there are practical alternatives to fossil fues; the issue is that there is a lot of low hanging fruit out there with respect to efficiency, conservation, and a change in consumer behavior. These are all impacted by government policy.

While you are entitled to your personal opinion, it is not based upon the facts but based upon what you want to believe about government policy.

Look at Germany. The German government has made a concerted effort to encourage alternatives like solar and wind and encourage conservation. These policies have paid off and are a direct result of government policy, not magic.

The performance by the U.S. is to be expected because it has feckless leadership that has spent most of its time in office in denial about global warming. Promising alternatives like hydrogen does nothing to address the problem, which is right now.

Harvey D.

A good reminder.

The performance of an exporting nation like Germany (-17.2%)is exceptional. United Kingdom with (-14.3%)deserves a good hand.

Canada with a shameful (+26.6%), or about (+14%) without the Alberta tar sands activities, is NOT trying very hard or rather not trying at all. USA (the receiver of the Tar Sands end products) with (+15.8%) is in the same boat. Canada/USA will have to do much better in the next 5 to 10 years but the trend is NOT changing yet. Canada may even be at (+40% to +50%) by 2012/2015 when the planned tar sands activities are doubled.


When nations see that you can have an expanding economy and reduce CO2, then we might make some progress.


One wonders if all the analysis of emissions nets out the use of material from other countries which causes polution in its production. For example, does Germany mine and smelt aluminum? If not, should they be responsible for the emissions created by the production of the aluminum they use in their factories?

Or take refineries. Should the US be responsible for the emissions from the refining of gasoline and other products that it imports?

In other words, its a global problem where proper analysis requires much more than the measurement of emissions from one geographic area called a country.



Quite right. It is our ultimate consumption as the end consumer that makes much of the difference. On the other hand, however, are we not responsible for the co2 from products that we export? This just points up the fact that carbon needs to be taxed at all stages of production with the cost of the tax being passed on at each stage.

To the extent that China, for example, is able to produce cheaper goods because it uses cheaper coal to produce them, this gives it another competitive advantage which should be remedied by taxes. If it refuses to sign up to an international framework which requires this, then countries should impose these carbon taxes as another form of duty. Same logic applies to other environmental and other social regulations which drive up the cost of goods.

Rafael Seidl

Pizmo raises a good point. It's not really appropriate to assess these numbers out of context.

In 1990, Germany had just reunited and pretty much the entire, extremely dirty East German heavy industry shut down. That suggests it's strong improvement is not entirely due to its commitment to solar, wind, etc.

Spain and Portugal joined the EU in 1986, after decades of economic isolation under their respective fascist dictatorships. Turkey emerged from its own military dictatorship more recently and has been booming ever since.

My own country, Austria, looks like a laggard at +15.4% but consider that we were already getting most of our electricity from hydro back in 1990. We also already had one of the densest public transport networks in Europe. Ergo, we no longer had as much low-hanging fruit. Moreover, we took in hundreds of thousands of refugees from the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, most of whom have been allowed to stay. We've also absorbed a large number of asylum-seekers and migrants from various Eastern Europe countries. As a result, our resident population has grown by almost 15% over the period.

The US and Australia have also experienced explosive population growth recently, largely thanks to immigration.

Perhaps it would be more fruitful to look at CO2 per unit of GDP and CO2 per resident in both 1990 and 2004.


The one thing that can massively reduce emissions gets almost no attention: replace coal with nuclear. Every other measure is either expensive or coercive, and coal produces a good 50% or more of most countries emissions.

Rafael Seidl

Dezakin -

whatever made you think that nuclear power was cheap? The construction, waste disposal and decommissioning are all extremely expensive. Future costs are routinely underestimated and, the bill inevitably lands in the taxpayers' lap.

With reserves of primary uranium on the decline, multiple reprocessing stages would become essential to achieve adequate lifespans for any new wave of reactors. That means moving highly radioactive waste around and concentrating that radioactivity at every step of the way. Plus, places North Korea and Iran will want to dabble in all this as well, at which point nuclear gets REALLY expensive.

If we do decide to get out of coal to mitigate global warming, shouldn't we leapfrog nuclear and head straight for a mix renewables like wind, solar, hydro and biofuels? A few hundred billion dollars, spread out over 20 or 30 years, seems like a manageable financial burden for the US taxpayer. Other countries, e.g. Germany and Denmark, are already further along the curve.


Nuclear power economics:

As for reserves of uranium being on the decline, consider we have about 1 trillion tons of uranium recoverable from shales to the high grade ores in todays mines, well enough to run 20000 light water reactors in the once through process for 25000 years. When you incorporate thorium in liquid flouride reactors, then we have about 1/4 of a billion years of fuel left.

Discounting nuclear, which is really the only alternative capable of displacing coal today, is simply naive. If Germany doesnt recind the nuclear phase out, they'll either break all of their kyoto commitments or import vast amounts of nuclear electricity from France.


There's a real objective source. :)



That kind of investment should come from the private sector, not taxation. What government can do is provide incentives to develop new technology, then step out of the way and let the market go to work.


That kind of investment should come from the private sector, not taxation. What government can do is provide incentives to develop new technology, then step out of the way and let the market go to work.

Jesus, man, give it a rest. WE GET IT - YOU HATE GOVERNMENT. It's not hard to grasp the concept.



If others can advocate their solutions, why can't I advocate mine?



Take a look at:

and especially their declaration:

Quite impressive.


CO2 emissions per capita are highly correlative with poverty. Could lead to a wrong objectives. Energy consumption (or CO2 emission, if you insist) per GDP would be way better measurement of the efficiency of particular economy.

There's a real objective source. :

If you want to come up with any cites that show anything besides coal being able to compete with nuclear on scalability and cost for baseload, be my guest. Hydro doesnt scale up as much, natural gas has huge fuel price dependancy, wind is capital intensive and requires load levelling. Solar is vastly more expensive and unreliable for most of the country.

The real cost of nuclear per kw is all tied up in the capital. So if the licencing process is onerous, the discount rate is high, and/or activists tie up the capital in legal injunctions several years before the power gets turned on your per kw/hr cost goes way up. If the discount rate is low, the licencing process is streamlined, and the plant gets turned on without interference, its cheaper than any everything else.


"Energy consumption (or CO2 emission, if you insist) per GDP would be way better measurement of the efficiency of particular economy."

While it is interesting to measure efficiency, the planet doesn't care how efficient we are; it cares about total greenhouse emissions. People like Bush want to measure progress in efficiency because they know that we continue to emit far more emssions per capita than any country in the world. While China is struggling mightily to catch up, the U.S. is the main problem.

Proudly announcing how efficient we have become in terms of GDP (itself a flawed concept) means nothing while the glaciers are melting, greenland is melting, the artic is melting, ocean waters are rising,drowths are increasing, ocean waters are adicidifying and global temperatures are rising. If we cannot overcome the effect of GDP and population on GHG, then both of them need to be reduced.


If others can advocate their solutions, why can't I advocate mine?

It's not a solution. It's a fantasy. It's also very boring. You speak to people as if they don't grasp the concept. It's a very simple concept, which every single person here is aware of. Certainly someone of Rafael's high intelligence understands it quite well.

What most people do is consider a problem or issue for what it is. There's no catch-all solution to things in life. There isn't. Yet day after day, one sees people who are convinced that if just one thing were adhered to, one thing changed, then all would be right in the world.

Hate of government is just that - hate. It is not rational. Government is made of people. Any institution is. You can no more generalize about government than you can about corporations. There are good governments and there are bad ones. There are good corporations and there are bad ones. There are good people in government. There are bad people in government. There are good people in corporations. There are bad people in corporations. And there's all kinds of gradations in-between (since rarely is something or someone wholly good or bad).

Letting markets solve things can be useful. It can also fail - miserably. Anyone who is paying attention, and certainly anyone who has studied economics (see: externalities) understands this.

Problems and issues of the scale that are discussed here (like climate change) need addressing from many angles. No single actor or approach is going to deal with it. Why does this problem even exist in the first place? Did government create the problem? No, the very "let the forces of the market solve it" approach created the problem. We just let things go, thinking there was no consequence to putting all sorts of things into the atmosphere at very high rates.

Saying all that does not mean that government is the only solution. Lots of people mirror your approach with the thought that every problem can be solved with taxes, or subsidies, or some other kind of force-driven approach. They're equally wrong.

But the bottom line is that I am very confident that everyone here -- or at least particularly the people whose opinions are well-considered and based upon lots of knowledge -- understands the "market forces" angle. The website itself is a testament to how much innovation is going on out there to move things forward. So, it's tone-deaf to keep telling people what they already know, as if they don't.

Each problem and each issue needs to be considered on its own, and creative thought needs to be applied to see what might work. But if one adheres to an inflexible ideological mantra, then most times the best solutions will elude one's perception.


If you want to come up with any cites that show anything besides coal being able to compete with nuclear on scalability and cost for baseload, be my guest.

That has nothing to do with anything.

Rafael Seidl

Cervus -

renewables are still too expensive for the private sector to consider them without government subsidies/tax breaks. Sad but true. Transportation fuels may yet prove an exception, because they fetch much higher prices than those used for space heating or electricity generation. It depends on how world oil prices develop.

High taxes on fossil fuels and nuclear waste disposal would prod more private investment in renewable power and energy efficiency, especially if they were balanced by tax cuts elsewhere. That would limit direct expenditure by the government, which you object to. It would also take some major cojones to get that kind of legislation passed over objections by powerful industry lobbies, especially in the US.


There has been a lot of talk about greenhouse gasses causing global warming. Has anyone worked out the affect of our consumption and release of humungeous amounts of stored energy (oil,gas,coal and nuclear). After all, almost 100% of the energy winds up as heat eventually.

Harvey D.

C02 per GDP may not be as fair as it seems because, to a large extend, GDP is driven by over consumption of all kinds. The 6000 calories/day 300+ lbs obese with 3 SUV gas guzzlers, 4 TVs, oversized houses, + huge imports etc creates higher GDP than the skinny person + conservation way of life. Oil producing countries + very high comsumption countries like USA with high GDP to GHG ratio would look overly good with this method.

C02 per capita is not too fair either because, to a large extend, it is driven by living standard differences, unfair currency value, very large population etc. China and India would look overly good with such a method.

Properly weighted total GHG may be a better way but a fair method remains to be developed.

Coal power plants produce an unsuitainable high level of CO2 and should be replaced. Capturing the CO2 and sending it to your neighbours IS NOT acceptable.

A mix of Hydro + Sun + Wind + Waves + Nuclear (yes, modern Nuclear power plants) + other alternative clean energies should be able to provide all the energy we need at a resonable price. Large scale electrical energy storage is possible with V2G and multiple EESD such as the Altairnano batteries.

Coal + liquid fosil fuels should be progressively taxed out of existence if we seriously want to reduce CO2 emissions and develop an alternative clean energy economy.


Blimey who knows which of the alternatives is best way to reduce GHG's?

Is it ethanol, solar, butanol, biodeisel, nuclear power, biogas, wind, energy efficiency, coal co2 sequestering, or just plain cutting back?

I know lots of intelligent people who seem to have an idea, some of them write on this site. Problem is they often seem to disagree with one another.

How about a globally agreed direct tax on carbon. Say 10% of the price and increasing at 10% annually as a minimum.
Receipts can be used to lower other taxes such as payroll tax - thus no overall taxation increase. No need for subsidies with the concommitant risk of pork barreling and mispent money.

Its not so much that they're aren't substitutes for fossil fuels, just that there aren't substitutes that are as cheap - and may have to wait a long time until scientist come up with one.

And even if they did, who's to say that, that we wouldn't find another economic way of continuing to use fossil fuel.

Wouldn't innovation progress a lot quicker if entrepreneurs or for that matter governments (in socialist countries) were guaranteed and level global playing field rather than a subsidy that may be withdrawn at the whim of a politician?

The problem with fossil fuel the true price, the price of global climate change, is not reflected in the market price.


(excuse the rhetoric ; ) )

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