Global CO2 emissions continue to rise

Posted by Kate Taylor

Human beings pumped out three percent more carbon dioxide last year than the year before, to reach an all-time high of 34 billion tonnes.

In China, average emissions were up nine percent at 7.2 tonnes per capita, placing the country in the same range as the major industrialised nations.

In the European Union, CO2 emissions dropped by three percent to 7.5 tonnes per capita. But the US remained one of the world's worst offenders, with 17.3 tones per capita - despite the recession, high oil prices and an increased share of natural gas.

The figures appear in 'Trends in global CO2 emissions' from the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) and the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL).

Based on recent results from the Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR) and latest statistics on energy use and relevant activities such as gas flaring and cement production, the report shows that global CO2 emissions continued to grow in 2011, despite reductions in OECD countries.

Weak economic conditions, a mild winter, and energy savings stimulated by high oil prices led to a three percent fall in CO2 emissions in the European Union and a two percent fall in both the United States and Japan.

Emissions from OECD countries now account for only one third of global CO2 emissions - the same share as that of China and India combined, where emissions increased by nine percent and sox percent respectively.

Economic growth in China and the resulting expansion in construction and infrastructure meant domestic coal consumption rose by 9.7 percent.

It's the world's biggest emitter of CO2, accounting for 29 percent of the total, follwed by the US with 16 percent, the EU with 11 percent and India with six percent.