Since 2000, atmospheric CO2 concentrations have grown four times more quickly than in previous decade, according to the latest figures released by the Global Carbon Project on 26 September. Ten billion tonnes of carbon were released in 2007, while the efficiency of natural carbon sinks has declined, leading to what could be the highest concentration for 20 million years, the 'Carbon Budget 2007' report says.
"This new update of the carbon budget shows the acceleration of both CO2 emissions and atmospheric accumulation are unprecedented, and most astonishing during a decade of intense international developments to address climate change," said Dr. Pep Canadell, executive director of the Global Carbon Project.
The report also shows a marked change in emissions patterns. Since the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was signed in 1992, the share of emissions from the developing world now constitutes over half of global emissions.
China assumed the mantle of largest CO2 emitter from the US in 2006, while India is shortly expected to overtake Russia and become the third largest emitter. From an historical perspective, however, developing countries - which account for 80% of the world's population - have only accounted for 20% of cumulative emissions since 1751. Although the increase has been quickest in the Third World, emissions from developed countries have continued to grow as well.
Referring to the world's continued dependency on fossil fuels, Professor Corinne Le Quéré of the British Antarctic Survey and the University of East Anglia warned: "If this trend continues and the natural sinks weaken, we are on track towards the highest projections of climate change."
The EU is committed to reducing its emissions by 20% by 2020, and has pledged to cut them by 30% if a new global climate change agreement is agreed in Copenhagen next year. To this end, on 23 January 2008 the Commission published a package of proposals on how to deliver the commitments to fighting climate change (see EurActiv LinksDossier).