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Global trends in CO2 emissions

This purely descriptive report from the IEA (here) on CO2 emissions from fuel use is useful for those thinking about climate agreements. There is a longer report from which this selects highlights but plenty of information in this report alone. Data runs to 2008.

In 2008 emissions of CO2 from Annex 2 countries exceeded those from Annex 1 countries for the first time.  Emissions from Annex 1 countries fell below 1990 levels while those from Annex 2 countries were 12% above 1990 levels.  Over 2007/08 world emissions grew by 0.4 Gt CO2 representing a fall by Annex 1 countries of 2% and an increase in Annex 2 countries of 6% – the latter due mainly to coal use. The net growth is serious in terms of IPCC targeting:

“….the World Energy Outlook (WEO 2009)5 projects that world CO2 emissions from fuel combustion will continue to grow unabated, reaching 40.2 Gt CO2 by 2030. Such an emission growth trend would be in line with the worst-case scenario presented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in the Fourth Assessment Report (2007), which projects a world average temperature increase of between 2.4°C and 6.4°C by 2100.”

In 2008 43% of emissions were based on coal, 37% from oil and 20% from gas.  Coal emissions will grow from 16 Gt CO2 in 2008 to 18.6 Gt in 2030.  Emissions from oil are decreasing and those from gas increasing moderately.  

By region CO2 emissions grew most strongly in China (8%), the Middle East (7%), other Asia (4%) and Latin America (4%).  By country 2/3 of emissions originated from 10 countries (in order of emissions levels: China, US, Russian Federation, India, Japan, Germany, Canada, UK, Iran, Korea) with China and the US combined producing 12.1 Gt of emissions or 41% of the world’s total.  

Electricity and heat production comprise 2/3 of global CO2 emissions. Countries such as Australia, China, India, Poland and South Africa produce between 69% and 94% of their electricity and heat through the combustion of coal. Transport, the second-largest sector, represented 22% of global CO2 emissions in 2008. The WEO 2009 projects transport will grow 45% by 2030.

Per capita emissions vary widely. The US has less than 5% of the world’s population but emits 19% of total emissions (18t per head).  China has 20% of the world’s population but emits 22% of total emissions (5t).  India with 17% of population emits 5% of total emissions (1 t).  But those countries with low per capita emissions are growing their per capita emissions strongly – between 1990 and 2008 China more than doubled its per capita emissions and India increased them by 80%. These countries contributed much to the 10% increase of global per capita emissions over the period.  Both the Russian Federation and the US decreased their per capita emissions significantly over the same period.

The Kyoto Protocol that came into force in February 2005 commits industrialised countries (as a group) to curb domestic emissions by 5% relative to 1990 by 2008-12.   It is limited in its potential since major emitters are not included in reduction commitments. The US is outside its jurisdiction and though most developing countries  have signed it, they do not face emissions targets. The Kyoto Protocol implies action on less than one-third of global CO2 emissions in 2008. Over the period 1990-2008 emissions growth in various regions/countries can be summarised as follows.

North America                  27.4%

Europe                                                 2.2%

Africa                                    63%

Middle East                        151.8%

Latin America                     69.8%

China                                     191.9%.

In closing the situations in two large developing countries are interesting.

China.   Chinese CO2 emissions have almost tripled between 1990 and 2008. The increases were especially large in the last six years (16% in 2003, 19% in 2004, 11% in both 2005 and 2006, and 8% in 2007 and 2008). The WEO 2009 projects that the growth in Chinese emissions will slow down to 2.9% per year up to 2030. Even with this slower growth, emissions in 2030 will be almost twice current levels, although policies are being considered that would reduce such growth.

Chinese demand for electricity was the largest driver of the rise in emissions. The rate of capacity additions peaked in 2006, but in 2009 China’s installed capacity rose by a net 81 GW, slightly more than the total installed capacity of South Korea.  At the same time, it closed over 26 GW of small, inefficient fossil fuel-fired plants. Coal played a major role in supporting the growing demand for electricity generation. Nearly all of the 1990-2008 emissions growth from power generation derived from coal.

Although per capita emissions in China in 2008 were 1/2 the OECD average, they have more than doubled since 1990, with the largest increases occurring in the last 6 years. The country is seeking ways to limit growth in CO2 emissions, though, and has announced regional pilot projects to find practical ways of implementing the national pledge, announced in late 2009 under the Copenhagen Accord, to reduce CO2 emissions per unit of GDP by 40% to 45% in 2020 compared to 2005.


India emits nearly 5% of global CO2 emissions, and emissions continue to grow. CO2 emissions have more than doubled between 1990 and 2008. The WEO project CO2 emissions in India will increase by more than 2.5 times by 2030 from 2008. A large share of these emissions is produced by the electricity and heat sector, which represented 56% of CO2 in 2008. The transport sector, which was only 9% of CO2 emissions in 2008, is growing relatively slowly compared to other sectors.

In 2008, 69% of electricity in India came from coal, another 10% from natural gas and 4% from oil. Although electricity produced from hydro has actually risen during this period, the share fell from 25% in 1990 to 14% in 2008. India is promoting the addition of other renewable power sources into its generation mix and had an installed capacity of 17 GW of renewable energy sources on 30 June 2010. Under its National Action Plan on Climate Change, India plans to install 20 GW of solar power by 2020. India has the world’s fifth-largest installed capacity of wind power.

Of the BRICS countries, India has the lowest CO2 emissions per capita (1.3 t CO2 in 2008), about ¼ the world average. However, due to the recent large increases in emissions, the Indian ratio is more than 1.5 times that of its ratio in 1990 and will continue to grow. India’s per capita emissions in 2030 will, however, still be below those in the OECD member countries today.

In terms of CO2/GDP, India has continuously improved the efficiency of its economy and reduced

CO2 emissions per unit of GDP by 21% between 1990 and 2008. India aims to further reduce emissions intensity of GDP by 20-25% by 2020 compared with the 2005 level.

4 comments to Global trends in CO2 emissions

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by denyse skipper, Denyse Skipper – RSS. Denyse Skipper – RSS said: Global trends in CO2 emissions: This purely descriptive report from the IEA (here) on CO2 emissions from fuel us… […]

  • Those IEA stats are very interesting. I think the GFC had an impact on the Kyoto committed countries.

    But what is missing from both IEA and hc is any mention of the uptakes of those large gross increases in CO2 emissions. These provide a large positive social externality by fuelling the concomitant increases in world food production over the period since 1990. Thus although gross emissions have grown by over 3% pa since 2000, the growth of the atmospheric concentration of CO2 has been only 0.29% p.a. (1959 to 2009) and still only 0.29% p.a. between October 1958 and October 2010. The rates for October 1990 to now and October 2000 to now are 0.2961 and 0.2966 respectively, not a very terrifying increase when one has to go to the 4th decimal point to find it.

    These are hardly runaway growth rates, and fall well (by a factor of 3) below the IPCC projections of 1% p.a. for this century. The fortunate truth is that higher growth of emissions is matched almost exactly by higher growth of [CO2], because of the benevolent effect of the rising partial pressure of [CO2] on biospheric uptakes thereof.

    You will of course NEVER see these LN growth rates of [CO2] in any IPCC report or in any other work by climate scientists. Charitably one supposes this is mainly because of their incompetence in basic math. and science.

    Hint: the 3% growth rate of emissions and the 0.3% growth rate of [CO2] have something to do of course with differing absolute numbers, in addition to the nearly 3% p.a. growth of biospheric uptakes of incremental emissions.

  • Hc: aplogies, there’s a missing phrase in the following para. therefrom, here it is in CAPS:

    These are hardly runaway growth rates, and fall well (by a factor of 3) below the IPCC projections of 1% p.a. for this century. The fortunate truth is that higher growth of emissions is matched almost exactly by higher growth OF UPTAKES OF [CO2] emissions, because of the benevolent effect of the rising partial pressure of [CO2] on biospheric uptakes thereof (never mentioned by AR4).

  • observa

    Lord Monckton reported on the result of the Cancun kneesup-

    ‘…The UN wants nothing less than 1.5% of our GDP.
    That’s $212 billion from the USA every year ($2700 per family of 4).
    That’s $32 billion from the UK every year ($2000 per family of 4).
    That’s $13 billion from Australia every year ($2400 per family of 4).
    Figures calculated from the CIA world Factbook
    The Secretariat will have the power not merely to invite nation states to perform their obligations under the climate-change Convention, but to compel them to do so. Nation states are to be ordered to collect, compile and submit vast quantities of information, in a manner and form to be specified by the secretariat and its growing army of subsidiary bodies….’

    Now all our deficit darlings have to do is come home and flog this brilliant kumbaya idea to all the working families out there while nervous nellies like Kristina Keneally are knocking off reshiftable power rates for NSW solar feed-in. They tell me 2011 is the year of BIG decision-making eh Julia? You go tell em girl!

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