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GCP Carbon Budget Finds Global Anthropogenic CO2 Emissions Rose 2% in 2008 Despite Global Financial Crisis; Natural Sinks Not Keeping Pace With Increasing Emissions

Despite the economic effects of the global financial crisis (GFC), carbon dioxide emissions from human activities rose 2% in 2008 to an all-time high of 1.3 tonnes of carbon per capita per year, according to a new paper published by an international team of 31 scientists in Nature Geoscience.

The authors, under the umbrella of the Global Carbon Project, reported a 29% increase in global CO2 emissions from fossil fuel between 2000 and 2008 (the latest year for which figures are available), and by 41% between 2008 and 1990, the reference year of the Kyoto Protocol. The use of coal as a fuel has now surpassed oil and developing countries now emit more greenhouse gases than developed countries, with a quarter of their growth in emissions accounted for by increased trade with the West.

Using a variety of data including direct observations, computer-generated models, and estimates from countries’ energy statistics, the team created a global CO2 budget—the amount of CO2 produced and consumed—from 1959 to 2008. Other main findings of the study include:

  • CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels have increased at an average annual rate of 3.4% between 2000 and 2008, compared with 1% per year in the 1990s.

  • Emissions from land use change have remained almost constant since 2000, but now account for a significantly smaller proportion of total anthropogenic CO2 emissions (20% in 2000 to 12% in 2008).

  • The fraction of total CO2 emissions remaining in the atmosphere has likely increased from 40 to 45% since 1959; models suggests this is due to the response of the natural CO2 sinks to climate change and variability.

  • Emissions from coal are now the dominant fossil fuel emission source, surpassing 40 years of oil emission prevalence.

  • The global financial crisis had a small but discernible impact on emissions growth in 2008—with the 2% increase compared with an average 3.6% over the previous seven years. On the basis of projected changes in GDP, emissions for 2009 are expected to fall to their 2007 levels, before increasing again in 2010.

  • Emissions from emerging economies such as China and India have more than doubled since 1990 and developing countries now emit more greenhouse gases than developed countries. A quarter of the growth in CO2 emissions in developing countries can be accounted for by an increase in international trade of goods and services.

According to the GCP’s findings, atmospheric CO2 growth was about four billion metric tonnes of carbon in 2008 and global atmospheric CO2 concentrations reached 385 parts per million—38% above pre-industrial levels.

According to co-author and GCP Executive Director, CSIRO’s Dr. Pep Canadell, the findings indicate that natural carbon sinks, which play an important role in buffering the impact of rising emissions from human activity, have not been able to keep pace with rising CO2 levels.

On average only 45 per cent of each year’s emissions remain in the atmosphere. The remaining 55 per cent is absorbed by land and ocean sinks. However, CO2 sinks have not kept pace with rapidly increasing emissions, as the fraction of emissions remaining in the atmosphere has increased over the past 50 years. This is of concern as it indicates the vulnerability of the sinks to increasing emissions and climate change, making natural sinks less efficient ‘cleaners’ of human carbon pollution.

—Dr Canadell

The researchers called for more work to be done to improve our understanding of the land and ocean CO2 sinks, so that global action to control climate change can be independently monitored.




Brazilian rainforest deforestation + Chinese & Indian coal fired power plants = more CO2 in the air. America switching to electric vehicles & renewable energy = less CO2 in the air.


America switching to electric vehicles & renewable energy = less CO2 in the air.

Will not make 1 iota of difference. China and India are are adding people to the planet at a rate that equals TWICE the population of California each year. Every single person in the US could ride bicycles to work every day and it would never make up for China opening two coal fired power plants per week.

If CO2 is truly a time bomb, We are already done.


So, the solution is no one stops burning fossil fuels?


No, I use mostly reclaimed fryer oil in my TDI. I installed a six speed transmition and I recently averaged 58 mpg's on a trip to Albequerque and back. I just don't kid myself. By the time a Volt actually shows up at a dealership near you we will pass the 7 billion mark. Oh, and by 2016 when the new Cafe standards kick in, we will be pushing 7.5 billion.


Politicians and enviros are going about the carbon problem all wrong. America has the highest corporate tax rate in the world, so eliminate the corporate tax (and all other taxes for that matter) until further notice for renewable energy companies...see what happens.


So, the solution is the US reduces burning fossil fuel burning by 20%?

And no, 20% is likely NOT any better than doing nothing.

We are stuck in the mode of attempting radical social change and half A88ED technical advance.

Carlos Fandango

Every year more and more coal is dug out of the ground, more and more oil and gas is drilled. It never reduces. (Except for the recent short term decline in oil production) Nobody should be suprised there is more CO2.

All countries behave the same. Those that have large coal resources (e.g. US and Australia) mine more and ship it to India and China. The same countries pay just enough lip service to reneawable energy to appease the local population.

I believe we can only move forward by making an effort to reduce world production of carbon. Reducing demand for energy is like asking people to drink less water.

We will never halt AGW digging and burning more carbon every year. The richer producers should be the first ones to consider capping production rates. I don't wish to start a war, but it might even be an advantage for the West to cause an increase in China and India raw material costs.

Indonesia and other coal producers can only supply so much coal. I suspect they could be pusuaded to cap and control exports following a US and Australia lead. China can whistle as hard as they like.

Carlos Fandango

Here you have it officially....

Between themselves China and the US are screwing the rest of the planet.

You could try whipping US and Chinese asses, but I suspect you will get ignored.


We have let this problem fester for 2 decades. And the longer we wait, the harder the effort.

Fundamental problem is that in a democracy where 63% of people is not convinced we can or should do anything about it (and I reckon it is not any different in other countries around the globe), there will never be a clear mandate for the politicians to move. And we do depend on them to set things in motion. Unregulated capitalism will find the path of least resistance, being the path of lowest cost, being continuing burning of fossil fuels.

I guess we will spend another 2 decades doing nothing. A few more toothless conferences to keep up appearances. Then the signals will become undeniable and another 2 decades will pass until things start happening that really make a difference. Then it is 2050. Wasn't the idea to have an 80% reduction by 2050? By 2050 emissions will be higher than today.


The point of reducing emissions is not to say:
"Hey we are going to change the world alone!" even though China destroys all the efforts, it's to have a strong position to negociate their cutting their emissions.
It's also in their long-term interest: they already have problems with floods that some people say will occur more often with global warming. And they know it: they have already shown signs of being (a little) concerned by the environment.
But they won't do anyhting really binding unless they know they are not the only ones doing it. That's why the US and Europe and Japan and Australia and all the other polluters ALL need to reduce emissions, then China will follow.

Fred H

The technologies that we read about on this site are slowly reducing the cost of alternative energy and reducing the use and negative effects fossil fuels.

These technologies are largely developed by people who want to profit from them. Those technologies which are not economical enough will fail, because no one can afford to implement them without risking bankruptcy. This applies to individuals, companies, governments, and entire countries.

The benefits of reducing fossil fuel use must outweigh the costs, otherwise it is doomed to failure. When individuals, companies, governments, and entire countries weigh the costs and benefits, they do not calculate only in terms of pure monetary currency. Quality of life, quality of Environment, and other things are also considered as profits and losses.

Economy and environment are inseparably connected. Economic policy must include sound environmental policy, and environmental policy must include sound economic policy. Otherwise, failure.

Technologies developed and used in the United States are adopted by developing countries, if they are affordable.

It does matter what the US does. If the US implements sound economical environmental technology and policy, then developing countries can afford to adopt it, thereby moderating their environmental impact.

If the US implements uneconomical environmental technologies and policies, then it benefits neither.


The collapse of Copenhagen due to alarmist exaggeration does nothing to mitigate the population explosion. We can all either agree on the impending resource wars that will kill half the inhabitants of the planet - or face the very tough decision to euthanize the weakest amongst us.

It may sound harsh but it has become necessary. Plans are being drawn up now that will pay benefits to next of kin of aged people with terminal illness electing to end their lives early. Same with unwanted children born in poverty. And the severely disabled. And those with mental deficiencies. Basically paying to cull the herd of its weakest members.

Which do we want? Death from drowning under sea level rise and mass drought induced starvation - or an orderly dignified euthanasia that pays cash benefits? A few years of aging and I'd take the money. Of course I'd be dead but it's part of the sacrifice we all have to make to sustain the planet.


Good points Anne...

We will wait, until the rest of the world has reduced their GHG by 50% and 66+% of the voters request it, before we make a major move.

This may very be way after 2050.


"Unregulated capitalism will find the path of least resistance, being the path of lowest cost, being continuing burning of fossil fuels."

I couldn't agree more. It is all democracy and freedom of thought problems. Once we begin culling the herd of the weak and non-useful workers - we can begin euthenizing the political opponents. 63% denaialists leaves 37% reelists - like me. The reelists need to work hard to make the denialist weaklings agree to terminate their existence - to benefit their children and unborn generations.

It might seem radical but... IF life insurance benefits were adjusted to disregard type of death, we could better expect the weak AND the desperate and very poor to opt for early termination. Provided cash benefits accrue to their assigns or next of kin named in provisional wills. This may seem callous now - but future generations are at stake and the sacrifices we make today, will pave the way to their survival.

This is rapidly becoming an over-populated planet. A carefully created and administered "Cash Out" campaign explaining the benefits of early "retirement" - could be the fastest way to reduce GHGs and address the excess people problem.


With the U.S. on the sidelines, preoccupied with health care reform, the developed and undeveloped world appear to be at an impasse over the terms of a new climate treaty. As a consequence, perhaps it is time to start thinking about Plan B, where many countries remain outside a "Treaty of the Willing," until it is in their core economic interests to make firm, and transparent commitments to control greenhouse gas emissions.

In the meantime, the developed countries and their allies should begin exploring the creation of a new Sustainable/Low Carbon Free Trade Block, whereby countries that operate within the confines of a new Global treaty on Climate Change, and adopt other planet friendly policies agree to eliminate tariffs, quotas, and fossil fuel subsidies, etc. on their imports and exports while those outside the treaty, (presumable led by China and India), pay an annual carbon tax on their exports, levied by an internationally recognized body responsible for trade laws and global finance, (e.g., GATT, or the OECD). The Tax would be determined by the global market price for carbon offsets X the amount that each non-signatory country's emissions, as monitored by satellites, exceed what they would have emitted under the GHG emission treaty. The proceeds from the Carbon Tax should be invested in low carbon projects in developing countries, (e.g., forest and habitat preservation, the phase out of biomass burning, and carbon sequestration projects involving sustainable agriculture, and coal fired generation). The emission targets for developing countries (adjusted for population) would be phased in such that they reflect the emissions of more advanced countries after they make the planned 80% reductions in total emissions.

To the extent that emissions reductions globally are insufficient to avoid the worst case scenario on Climate Change, then a renewed effort and focus should be placed on mitigation of climate change impacts, and planetary engineering to slow the temperature increase, and buy time for a carrot and stick approach, and technological innovation to bear fruit. A canal from the Gulf of California to the Salton Sea should be constructed and be fully operational by the middle of the century to offset expected increases in sea level, and various planetary engineering schemes, (e.g., the injection of highly reflective particles into the upper atmosphere, and other solar shading schemes), should be carefully analyzed and if found safe and cost effective implemented to buy time for new technologies and international agreements to take hold.

Other low cost mitigation measures should be pursued immediately, including the painting of urban roofs and streets white, utilizing military or heavily armed environmental police forces to protect wild habitats and virgin forest, a global crack down on black carbon and super greenhouse gas emissions including trade embargoes or even military action if non-compliant facilities continue operations, the development of new crops varieties that utilize less water and fertilizer, and deployment of sustainable terrestrial farming and advanced aquaculture to replace collapsing fish stocks.

The Goracle


Fundamental problem is that in a democracy where 63% of people is not convinced we can or should do anything about it.

Actually, the fundamental problem is with the ignoramuses who blindly follow Al Gore, et. al. The Globalwarmist religion has been shown to be a false religion ad nauseum. Yet, the faithful Globalwarmists, in the face of overwhelming evidence, continue to claim that the Earth is warming due to CO2.

Green Car Congress posts links to articles supporting The Faith. It's odd that Green Car Congress refuses to post articles denying The Faith, such at this one:

Climatologists Baffled by Global Warming Time-Out

An excerpt: "[Mojib] Latif, one of Germany's best-known climatologists, says that the temperature curve has reached a plateau. 'There can be no argument about that,' he says. 'We have to face that fact.'"

Thankfully, 63% of the people refuse to become Globalwarmists. They understand that the Globalwarmist faith is about $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$, FAT retirement plans, jetting around the world (Oh... The carbon footprint!!!) to climate discussions, government "research" grants and government control of people's lives.

It's time to once again rebrand the claim! First it was Global Warming®, then Climate Change®, now CO2 Pollution®. Keep on trying!



Using less imported oil is a goal independent of global warming. $400 billion per year going out of the country for oil has an effect on our trade imbalance and the value of the dollar. People can say China should do more, but let us lead by example, there are SO many benefits for doing the right things that it gives plenty of room for people to brag later.

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