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Annual Increase in Global CO2 Emissions Halved in 2008; Decrease in Fossil Oil Consumption, Increase in Renewables Share

Global CO2 emissions from fuel use and cement production by region. Source: PBL. Click to enlarge.

Very high oil prices up to the summer of 2008, together with a worldwide financial crisis have caused a halving of the annual increase in global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) from consumption of oil, coal and gas, and from cement production, according to preliminary estimates by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL), using recently published energy data from BP.

Emissions increased by 1.7% in 2008, against 3.3% in 2007. Since 2002, the average annual increase was almost 4%. In addition to high oil prices and the financial crisis, the increased use of new renewable energy sources, such as biofuels for road transport and wind energy for electricity generation, had a noticeable and mitigating impact on CO2 emissions.

Global CO2 emissions increased from 15.3 billion tonnes in 1970, to 22.5 billion tonnes in 1990 and 31.5 billion tonnes in 2008. This represents an increase of 41% since 1990. For the first time, the share of global CO2 emissions from developing countries is slightly higher (50.3%) than from industrialized countries (46.6%) and international transport (3.2%) together.

Fossil oil consumption decreased by one per cent, due to high prices and more biofuels. The lower increase in CO2 emissions was mainly due to a decrease in global fossil oil consumption of about 0.6%, the first global decrease since 1992.

In particular in the US, where gasoline prices almost doubled in the summer of 2008 compared to 2007 levels, oil consumption dropped 7% decrease. In China, oil consumption increased by 3% in 2008, according to BP data, which was down from 5% in 2007 and 8%, on average, since 2001. Increasing use of biofuels, such as bioethanol and biodiesel, contributed about 0.3 percentage points to the global decrease. Moreover, had 2008 not been a leap year—giving it an extra day—fuel consumption and emissions would have been even 0.3 to 0.4 percentage points lower.

Biofuels and other renewable energy sources start impacting CO2 trends. The increasing use of new renewable energy sources begins to have a significant impact on the global trend in CO2 emissions. In the US and the European Union (EU 15), the share of ethanol fuel and biodiesel in road transport fuel increased by about one per cent. Also in China, biofuels are increasingly being used as transport fuel.

In 2008, biofuels contributed about 2.5% to global fuel consumption in road transport, representing a gross saving of over 100 million tonnes in CO2 emissions. Wind energy is another renewable energy source, the production of which is increasing at very high rates. In 2008, global production capacity increased by almost 30%, with increases in China and the US of about 100% and 50%, respectively.

According to a recent report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), 2008 was the first year in which new power generation investments in renewables were greater than investments in fossil-fuelled technologies. Excluding large-scale hydropower, renewables contributed 4.4% to global power generation, a half per cent more than in 2007, thereby averting about 500 million tonnes of CO2 emissions in 2008.

Coal consumption: lower increase due to financial crisis and more renewable electricity. Global emissions from coal consumption increased by 3.5%, which was less than in previous years, where average annual increases were about 5%. High fuel prices, the European CO2 Emission Trading Scheme (EU ETS), and the global recession starting after last year’s summer, are the likely causes of this decrease, according to PBL.

Globally, three quarters of coal consumption is used for electricity production and one quarter for iron and steel production. Steel production, particularly, showed a smaller worldwide increase of 2% in 2008, versus about 8% in the years since 2002. This resulted in a large slowdown of steel production in China and a decrease in the US. In Europe, emissions from large industries (‘ETS sector’) showed a 3% decrease in 2008, largely caused by a decrease in power plant emissions. The trend in global CO2 emissions from the use of natural gas, which increased by almost 3% in 2008, did not show large differences compared to previous years.

Trends in the US, European Union, China, Russia and India. In total, CO2 emissions from the US and the European Union decreased by about 3% and 1.5%, respectively, in 2008, Although China’s emissions showed an increase of 6%, this is the lowest increase since 2001. Cement production in China showed a similar pattern, with a 2.5% increase in 2008, a drop from 9.5% in 2007. The declining increase in China’s emissions fits the trend since 2004, when its emissions increased by 17%. Smaller contributions to increasing global emissions were made by India and Russia, with increases of 7% and 2%, respectively.

Since 1990, in China, CO2 emissions have increased from 2 to 5.5 tonnes of CO2 per capita, and in the EU 15 and the US, they have decreased from 9 to 8.5 and from 19.5 to 18.5, respectively. These changes reflect the large economic development in China, structural changes in national and global economies, and the impact of climate and energy policies.

Developing countries edge past 50%. Carbon dioxide is the most important greenhouse gas, contributing about three-quarters to global greenhouse gases. In 2008, for the first time ever, the share of CO2 emissions from developing countries of 50.3% was only just above those from industrialized countries (46.6%) and international transport (3.2%), together. This pattern is also visible in the energy data from BP, which showed for 2008, that for the first time, developing countries leapfrogged industrialized countries in primary energy consumption.

The emission figures exclude CO2 emissions from forest and peat fires and post-burn decay, which mostly affect developing countries. These would add another 20% to global CO2 emissions, albeit highly uncertain and highly varying between years.

For this PBL study, emission data for 2005, per country, were used from EDGAR, a joint study by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) and the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL). In a press release on EDGAR 4.0, by JRC and PBL in May, it was concluded that when taking into account all other greenhouse gases, such as methane and nitrous oxide, the leapfrog moment occurred in 2004, due to the developing countries’ higher share in emissions of these other gases.



But hey, since the truth about the CO2 hoax is leaking out of the agency charged with controlling it... Maybe this is all meaningless.


Here's the so called controversial paper from the EPA

as noted, it contains such biased evidence interpreted by sites like wattsup and icecap. It also contains wrong assumptions which experts in the field, which he is not, dispute.

This is hardly what you would call peer reviewed. This guy, Alan Carlin is in his 60's considering his RAND papers. It will probably be circulated around especially in the denier blogs and I'm sure he will be paid and paraded around.

Are there people who don't believe in AGW in the EPA? Yes but so what? I can name at least one racist nobel prize winning physicist who believed in eugenics. Doesn't mean they are right. There were lots of assumptions and errors in that report that he wrote and that the deniers are taking as a sign of conspiracy.

It was a very slanted so called story, especially if one reads the source of the controversy and realize what an undistiguished work it really was.

The reaction of the authors of this paper. Sour grapes for not bowing to their beliefs. Too bad. The science is leaving them behind. That's what retirement is about.


Big headline: EPA May Have Suppressed Report Skeptical Of Global Warming which proves "the truth about the CO2 hoax."

Oh really? Where were you when the Bush Whitehouse and the oil industry suppressed the science of global warming and created the hoax that there was still a debate amongst the scientists?


It is what is happening now fellas - not yesterday that matters. Right now, the Obama Administration has a major FUBAR on their hands. The President and Rom Emanuel had best sit down and work out an exit strategy because an agency muzzling critical reports does not fit the Obama image.

And image today is at least as important as substance.




EPA's response.

“Certain opinions were expressed by an individual [Carlin] who is not a scientist and was not part of the working group dealing with this issue,” said EPA spokesperson Adora Andy.

“Nevertheless, several of the opinions and ideas proposed by this individual were submitted to those responsible for developing the proposed endangerment finding. Additionally, his manager allowed his general views on the subject of climate change to be heard and considered inside and outside the EPA and presented at conferences and at an agency seminar. The individual was also granted a request to join a committee that organizes an ongoing climate seminar series, open to both agency and outside experts, where he has been able to invite speakers with a full range of views on climate science. The claims that his opinions were not considered or studied are entirely false.”

Yes. It's so controversial. If he championed any other marginal idea, would its dismissal be grounds for this conspiracy talk? Carlins work was evaluated and found wanting.


As an added treat, someone posted this

An overview of the story.


Oh bravo.

Stan Peterson

This claptrap is Science?

They report changes to tenths of a single percent, and than admit the data is biased by non reporting in underdeveloped countries by as much as + or - 20%.

And that is without accounting for the biotic explosion that has greened the planet by 30% since the 1980s, due to the growth stimulating effects of more atmospheric CO2. This natural re-forestation, proven by satellite observation, is wholly unreported or accounted for, in any way, in this report.

It seems, if a mighty Oak drops and acorn which sprouts into a tree, it goes unreported. The Oak tree failed to obtain and fill-out an official government form, about its new sapling. So it doesn't Officially exist, to these bureaucratic fruitcakes.

This is AGW claptrap and nothing more, meant to buttress tax raising excuses. This nonsense isn't Science and isn't worth the trees cut down to publish it on.


Here's what real people think:

"Global warming zealots are a bit like Iran's mullahs. They are fanatically devoted to a series of false propositions. Unable to win an open scientific debate, they consistently resort to bullying and brute force to suppress their opposition. Once again, we see the Obama administration taking the lead in this regard, putting political ideology above scientific truth and demanding that all others do likewise."
—Noel Sheppard is the Associate Editor of NewsBusters.


Define "real people" for us who, apparently, aren't "real people."


Very perceptive ai.


Why do people still bother answering Reel et al?
And why do they bother coming on this site?


By "they", I meant "Reel et al" of course


If we reduce the consumption of our finite supply of fossil fuels that has taken millions of years to accumulate, then I am for it.

It takes 100 million years to create and we burn up half of it in 100 years and think nothing of it. Talk CO2 all you want, but the real benefit is saving the fossil fuels as a reserve and using renewable energy.


Is there really so much controversy about AGW as to justify my occasional bout of skepticism?
For many people, belief surged after Al Gore’s smarmy “An Inconvenient Truth”.
Does pictures of glaciers calving and some island being flooded prove AGW, any more than some old lady freezing in her car proves we are entering an ice age?

No, but there was actually scientific evidence presented in the movie.

I dislike the movie and I am very irritated by continual bombardment with yet another aspect of global warming.

But actually, the movie cannot weaken or disprove the case for AGW regardless of its tone.
No more than the belief that this Carlin bloke must be daft if he is in his 60s. Kooks believing in AGW does not make it false.

Why can’t we have some respected scientist just confirm AGW or not?

Oh wait, there ARE multiple reports and groups that say AGW is real; like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) position of January 2001 (and others up through 2007) and the Federal Climate Change Science Program of May 2, 2006 and May 29, 2008 (Under G.W. Bush), and the intergovernmental Arctic Council and the non-governmental International Arctic Science.

I am forced to conclude that my lack of complete and firm faith in AGW is due to wanting very, very badly for it to be false.

It’s like wanting to believe Cobasys is preventing production of cheap NiMH batteries, or that GM forced people to buy large cars, or that people would buy EV1s, or that the auto industries are conspiring against BEVs and forcing us into an H2 economy (hydrogen H2, not Hummer H2). But people who believe those things just want, very badly, to believe the world has not freely chosen to disagree with them.

So I occasionally relax and let paranoia sooth me with the belief that AGW is just a massive plot - but I don’t stay there.

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