23/11/2013
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Global carbon emissions set to reach record 36 billion tonnes in 2013

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Petroleum-derived exhaust fumes still account for the majority of carbon emissions in the world, closely followed by the burning of coal. Photo: Matthew Paul Argall (commons.wikimedia.org).
Petroleum-derived exhaust fumes still account for the majority of carbon emissions in the world, closely followed by the burning of coal. Photo: Matthew Paul Argall (commons.wikimedia.org).
Global emissions of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels are set to rise again in 2013, reaching a record high of 36 billion tonnes according to new figures from the Global Carbon Project, co-led by researchers from the University of East Anglia (UEA).

The 2.1 per cent rise projected for 2013 means global emissions from burning fossil fuel are 61 per cent above 1990 levels, the baseline year for the Kyoto Protocol. The resulting climate change and rapidly shifting habitats could decimate animal and plant populations by up to two thirds.

Prof Corinne Le Quéré of UEA led the report. She said: “Governments meeting in Warsaw this week need to agree on how to reverse this trend. Emissions must fall substantially and rapidly if we are to limit global climate change to below two degrees. Additional emissions every year cause further warming and climate change.

Alongside the latest Carbon Budget is the launch of the Carbon Atlas, a new online platform showing the world’s biggest carbon emitters more clearly than ever before. The Carbon Atlas reveals the biggest carbon emitters of 2012, what is driving the growth in China’s emissions, and where Britain is outsourcing its emissions. Users can also compare EU emissions and see which countries are providing the largest environmental services to the rest of the world by removing carbon from the atmosphere.

“We are communicating new science,” said Prof Le Quéré. “Everyone can explore their own emissions, and compare them with their neighbouring countries, past, present, and future.”

The Global Carbon Budget reveals that the biggest contributors to fossil fuel emissions in 2012 were China (27 per cent), the United States (14 per cent), the European Union (10 per cent), and India (6 per cent). The projected rise for 2013 comes after a similar rise of 2.2 per cent in 2012.
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