In 2010, global carbon dioxide emissions were the highest ever recorded after bouncing back from lowered figures in 2009. The struggling economy contributed greatly to reduced emissions in 2009, however, record levels in 2010 appear to have begun a more concerning trend of rising carbon emissions.
Between 2009 and 2010 global output of carbon dioxide increased by six percent, the greatest increase ever before recorded. China, the United States and India led the world in terms of carbon emissions. An increase in coal use contributed significantly to the rise, with an eight percent rise in coal use in 2010. These are similar foundations to the rise seen in 2011.
Early figures by the International Energy Agency indicate that in the year 2011 the global carbon dioxide emissions rose by 3.2 percent. A total of 31.6 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions were released into the atmosphere during last year, an increase of 1 gigaton. Despite reductions in many nations, a significant increase in China caused yet another rise in year-to-year carbon emissions and yet another year of record emissions. China increased their emissions by 9.3 percent due to increased coal use.
China increased their emissions by 720 million tons. India also increased their emissions by 140 million tons, or an increase of 8.7 percent. The United States actually saw a reduction in carbon emissions in 2011, a decrease of 92 million tons, or 1.7 percent. Since 2006 the U.S. has decreased emissions by 430 million tons, or 7.7 percent. The European Union also saw decreases, a total of 69 million tons, or 1.9 percent, was seen in the EU. The top five emitters are currently China, the U.S., the EU, India and Russia.
Despite the decrease in emissions shown by the U.S. and the EU, emissions still rose. However, experts indicated that the rise could have been significantly more had China not increased their energy efficiency in the last six years. Without increased efficiency China would have likely seen 1.5 gigatons more of carbon emissions.
Unfortunately the International Energy Agency indicated that the path we are currently on likely does not limit warming this century to two degrees Celsius, the current global goal. In order to meet this goal carbon emissions will need to be limited to 32.6 gigatons by the year 2017. However, this scenario only allows for a 1 gigaton rise in emissions between 2011 and 2017 considering 2011 saw 31.6 gigatons. Without China’s change in energy efficiency, the world output would have already surpassed 2017 cutoff levels.