Rising global C02 emissions ‘exceed worst-case scenario’

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Global carbon-dioxide emissions are increasing more quickly than even the worst-case scenario envisaged by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, reveals a May 2007 paper by Michael Raupach, of the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.

Developing economies accounted for 73% of the growth in C02 emissions in 2004, representing 41% of total global carbon emissions, according to the research, published by the US National Academy of Sciences. 

Attempting to determine why emissions growth suddenly accelerated after 2000, Raupach concludes that the current rise in C02 emissions is due to a reduction in global efficiency, rather than population growth. Indeed, the researchers found that no part of the world reduced the amount of carbon used to produce energy between 2000 and 2004 – despite widespread publicity in support of greener sources of energy. 

Meanwhile, world energy consumption is projected to grow by 57% between 2004 and 2030, according to figures released by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) of the U.S. Department of Energy – with the most rapid growth in energy demand coming from Asian nations outside the OECD. 

Patterns in energy demand are expected to change in the coming decades. According to the EIA, rising oil prices will dampen growth in demand for liquid fuels – including petroleum – after 2015, reducing their share of overall energy use. In contrast, the role played by natural gas, coal, and renewable energy resources is expected to grow. Global nuclear capacity is also expected to increase. 

However, consumption of liquid fuel will rise in real terms, reaching 118 million barrels per day by 2030, states the report. Meanwhile, the EIA indicates that coal is the fastest-growing worldwide source of energy, with consumption increasing by 2.2% annually. 

Raupach’s team believe that a post-Kyoto treaty on climate change should address the problem in a different manner. However, despite the increases in carbon emissions, they insist that the Kyoto Protocol has had its successes, namely the fact that there is an international climate regime, a functional emissions trading scheme, and a market in carbon offsets in developing countries. 

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