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Global CO2 emissions up 3% in 2011; per capita CO2 emissions in China reach EU levels

CO2 per capita emissions from fossil fuel use and cement production from the top 5 emitting regions. Click to enlarge.

Global emissions of CO2 increased by 3% last year, according to the annual report “Trends in global CO2 emissions”, released by the EC Joint Research Centre (JRC) and the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL). At 3%, the 2011 increase in global CO2 emissions is above the past decade’s average annual increase of 2.7%.

Weak economic conditions, a mild winter, and energy savings stimulated by high oil prices led to a decrease of 3% in CO2 emissions in the European Union and of 2% in both the United States and Japan. Emissions from OECD countries now account for only one third of global CO2 emissions—the same share as that of China and India combined, where emissions increased by 9% and 6% respectively in 2011. In China, the world’s most populous country, average emissions of CO2 increased by 9% to 7.2 tonnes per capita—within the range of 6 to 19 tonnes per capita emissions of the major industrialized countries.

In the European Union, CO2 emissions dropped by 3% to 7.5 tonnes per capita. The United States remain one of the largest emitters of CO2, with 17.3 tonnes per capita, despite a decline due to the recession in 2008-2009, high oil prices and an increased share of natural gas.

According to the report, the top emitters contributing to the global 34 billion tonnes of CO2 in 2011 are:

  1. China (29%)
  2. the United States (16%)
  3. the European Union (11%)
  4. India (6%)
  5. the Russian Federation (5%)
  6. Japan (4%)

An estimated cumulative global total of 420 billion tonnes of CO2 has been emitted between 2000 and 2011 due to human activities, including deforestation—representing between 28 to 42% of the 1,500 to 1,000 billion tonnes maximum for the period 2000-2050 required to keep the rise in average global temperature to 2 °C above pre-industrial levels, according to models.

Some of the findings of the report include:

  • Global consumption of coal (responsible for about 40% total CO2 emissions) grew in 2011 by 5%, whereas global consumption of natural gas and oil products increased by only 2% and 1%, respectively.

  • CO2 emissions from the cement clinker production process (the largest source of non-combustion-related CO2 emissions, contributing 4% to the global total) increased globally by 6%, mainly due to an 11% increase in China.

  • The much smaller amount of global CO2 emissions from gas flaring did not change significantly in 2011, with the largest increases occurring in the United States and Russia, and the largest decrease occurring in Libya.

  • Since 2002, annual economic growth in China accelerated from 4% to 11%, on average. CO2 emissions increased by 150% in China, and in India by 75%.

  • Since 1990, in China, CO2 emissions per capita increased from 2.2 to 7.2 tonnes, while they decreased in the EU27 from 9.2 to 7.5 tonnes per capita and in the United States from 19.7 to 17.3 tonnes per capita.

  • Global anthropogenic CO2 emissions have grown 50% in in the 20 years since 1992, when the UN Earth Summit was held in Rio de Janeiro. This growth in emissions caused an increase of 10% in the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, from 356 to 392 ppm.

  • Global fossil oil consumption increased by about 2.9% in 2011 (corrected for biofuels). China’s oil consumption increased by 5.5%, below the 10-year average, and accounted for two-thirds of the growth in trade in 2011, with oil imports increasing by 13%. The CO2 emission trends in OECD and non-OECD countries are diverging, with a 1.2% decline in OECD countries, the fifth decrease in the past six years versus a 2.8% increase in non-OECD countries.

  • Natural gas consumption increased globally by 2.2% in 2011, with below average consumption in all regions, except for North America, where low prices drove robust growth. The largest growth took place in China (+22%), Saudi Arabia (+13%) and Japan (+12%). However the European Union saw the largest decline on record, with -11%, mainly due to warm weather, a weak economy, high gas prices and continued growth in renewable electricity production.

  • Coal consumption increased globally by 5.4 % in 2011, which is an above average growth, and accounts for 30.3% of global energy consumption, the highest share since 1969. Coal consumption in China increased by 9.7% in 2011, accounting for 49% of global coal use and representing more than three quarters of global consumption growth in 2011.

The trends in CO2 emissions reflect the impact of policies aimed to improve energy efficiency and to increase the use of nuclear or renewable energy sources over that of fossil fuels. In this context, we can observe that some CO2 mitigation measures are increasingly applied in our society. One of the main CO2 reduction options is the use of ‘new’ renewable energy sources (excluding hydropower), such as solar and wind energy and biofuels. Although still very small, their share is increasing with accelerating speed: it took 12 years since 1992 to double the share from 0.5% to 1%, but only 6 more years to double it again to 2.1% in 2011.

These shares are based on the BP convention of 38% average thermal power conversion efficiency for converting renewable electricity production to primary energy. Using an emission factor mid-way between the IPCC’s default values for coal and natural gas (effectively a factor for diesel fuel), this represents about 800 million tonnes CO2 in potentially avoided emissions in 2011 that would have been globally emitted from fossil fuel power generation and road transport. This amount is similar to the current CO2 emissions from Germany.

Including hydropower, total renewable energy sources presently supply 8.5% of all energy. Total potentially avoided emissions in 2011 are estimated at roughly 1.7 billion tonnes CO2 when including the hydropower capacity added since 1992. Thus, present global CO2 emissions, potentially, could have been about 5% higher without the use of these renewable energy sources. About one third of these potentially avoided emissions relates to China and one eighth to Brazil, both mainly due to the increased use of hydropower. If these and other main CO2 reduction measures, such as energy savings, are going to be applied on a large scale, the current rate of increasing emissions will slow down and the probability that the 2 °C target will be achieved may increase, substantially.

—Trends in global CO2 emissions




There are no secrets here.

CO2 emissions have gone up from 356 ppm to 392 ppm and are coming from places with higher economic and manufacturing activities such as China and India. Countries with reducing economic and manufacturing activities such as USA and EU emit less CO2 per capita.

As we transfer more and more manufacturing activities to China and India, CO2 emissions will go with it. Closed manufacturing plants do not emit much CO2.

Secondly, China is developing its infrastructures at an increasing rate while USA and EU are stalling.

The current very dry summer in USA is having a major impact on corn-soja-wheat production and price. The 50% increase in price is taking speculators on a joy ride. Corn ethanol price will go sky high soon. All meat-eggs-bread-pastry price will follow a similar upward curve. Using 40% of the corn crop to produce ethanol was and is still a bad decision. It created a speculators' heaven and will make the 97% poorer.

Roger Pham

Higher CO2 emission will cause higher atmospheric CO2 level and will cause more climatic extremes such as severe extensive drought and flooding as the world is experiencing with more frequency and severity.
Parallel to this, renewable energy is getting cheaper and cheaper. The time will come when a decisive majority of those in power will agree that a ban should be made on fossil fuels and on all GHG emitting activities.

China and India have a lot of mouth to feed, and with increase in frequency of crop failures due to drought and flooding, and with increasing deaths from extreme heat, then perhaps someday they will wake up.


RP.....your are right on it.

Yes, China/India and USA/Canada and many others will have to wake up. Do not forget that Canada's per capita GHG is 4X China's and 6X to 7X India's and still going up with increasing tar sands and shale gas (SG) activities.

Using edible grains to produce liquid fuels for our gas guzzlers is a folly that we will have to stop very soon. If the current drought, in the mid-west, last another year, soon may be in 2013. Using our huge supply of coal and SG/NG to make liquid fuels could be a better solution than using grains.

Sooner or latter we will have to use clean renewable sources of energy such as hydro, wind, solar, waves, geothermal and even up-to-date nuclear to feed our electrified vehicles, boats and small planes.

Another piece of good/bad news. The $6+B Trans-mountain pipelines from Alberta to the Pacific Ocean port will be built and in operation in 2016/2017 to supply Asia with lower cost Oil and Gas. More manufacturing activities and GHG emissions will than be transferred to China and India. Alberta's per capita GHG will probably go from 72 to 100 tonnes/year.


The $6+B Trans-mountain pipelines from Alberta to the Pacific Ocean port will be built and in operation in 2016/2017

I guess all we on the west coast can do now is pray they can somehow keep their stinky goo in the pipeline long enough to reach the port.

"There have been three pipeline leaks in Alberta this year, including the leak of up to 475,000 litres of oil into the Red Deer River, a major drinking water source in central Alberta.

Enbridge, in particular, has come under fire in recent weeks for its role in the biggest on-shore spill in U.S. history.

A leak in an Enbridge pipeline poured millions of litres of oil into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River in July 2010.

In a scathing report, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board compared Enbridge’s handling of the incident to the “Keystone Kops,” a fictional team of incompetent police from the silent movie era.

The company had known since 2004 the pipeline suffered from corrosion, and also failed to respond to the rupture for 17 hours after the initial alarm was sounded, the board said.

The Michigan spill affected more than 50 kilometres of waterways and wetlands with about 320 people reporting symptoms of crude oil exposure. Enbridge’s cleanup costs have exceeded $800-million."


ai-vin...compulsory pipelines inspections were more or less abolished in Canada under the current government and in USA under the previous Administration. Oil producers well being and profit margins have priority both sides of the border. However, the new Trans-Mountain pipelines will supposedly have more safety measures and will be more resistant to rust and breakage, so claimed Enbridge.


Harvey the question to ask is "For how long?"

I told somebody else about the pipeline leaks the other day and his response was 'yeah but those were old pipes, this one will be new.' I had to point out those "old pipes" were put into the ground new and left there until they leaked. Then I ask him how long he thought they'd leave this one in the ground? So now I'm asking you: For how long will they keep up the inspections?

I'm not worried this pipeline will leak tomorrow, or next year, or even in the next 20 years, but you can bet somewhere down the road it WILL leak. It will leak because it has had 30/40/50 years to rust and break, because an inspector cut corners or a manager cut the maintaince budget, or just because someone digging nearby forgot it was there. It will leak because a river it passed under flooded or changed course, or because of a mountain slide. It will leak because Canada already has 23,564 km (14,642 mi) of pipeline for transportation of crude and refined oil, and 74,980 km (46,590 mi) for liquefied petroleum gas and if you flip the coin long enough. . .


Yes ai_vin, added safety features and more on-going inspections cost money. It is often much cheaper to buy politicians and elections. Pipelines owners/operators and the 3% know that.


Right on cue;


More Blather and eco-Goo.

This is at best an accumulation of reported human CO2 emissions dully filled out, and reported on required governmental forms. It does not report either Natural CO2 emissions or Sequestration, nor any human sequestration going on. It is only as accurate and comprehensive, as the national human reporting is.

{Despite every effort or threat, of these dumb bureaucrats, the Oak and Pine trees just ignore requests to fill-out required governmental forms on CO2 emissions and absorbtion by themselves or their little shrublings!]

How can US CO2 emissions be up 3%, when it disagrees with their own graph that they supplied in this "Study"?

In fact, US CO2 emissions are below the Kyoto Treaty Targets, that the US didn't sign, but honored in the breach, anyhow. US CO2 emissions have been falling steadily for a decade, and the rate of decrease is rising.

EG, Fossil electric power generation by Coal has fallen from over 51% coal to less then or about 38%, as Utilities ahve converted their boilers to cheaper natural gas, in the past year and a half. Each conversion is reducing the CO2 emitted by 800%, in that power station.

The Kyoto Treaty sought to have every country reduce CO2 emissions to below 1990 levels. We in the USA are doing so, by their very own contradicting graph that these governmental dweebs supplied. That graph does not even show the natural gas electric power shifting happpening this year, either.

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