CO2 Emissions in 2010 Show Biggest Increase Ever Recorded

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Global carbon emissions soared 5.9 percent in 2010, the largest increase ever recorded, according to the Global Carbon Project, an international collaboration of scientists that tracks carbon emissions.

The increase comes after a short-lived decline in emissions in 2008 and 2009 and is a sign that global CO2 emissions are once again on the rise as world economies bounce back from recession.

The overall jump of more than 500,000 million tons of CO2 emissions from 2009 to 2010 was likely the largest absolute increase since the Industrial Revolution, according to the Global Carbon Project.

Emissions in China, the world’s largest source of CO2 releases, rose by 10.4 percent to 2.2 billion tons of carbon injected into the atmosphere. Emissions in the U.S., after dropping 7 percent in 2009, rose by 4 percent last year, according to the report.

On average, fossil fuel emissions increased about 3.1 percent from 2000 to 2010, about three times the rate of increase during the 1990s.

The combustion of coal represented more than half of the growth in emissions, the report said. Glen Peters, a researcher at the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research in Oslo and a leader of the Global Carbon Project, said the steep rise in emissions is evidence of a trend that portends severe climate change in the future. “Each year the emissions go up, there’s another year of negotiations, another year of indecision,” said Peters.

Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.

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Yale Environment 360 is an online magazine offering opinion, analysis, reporting and debate on global environmental issues. We feature original articles by scientists, journalists, environmentalists, academics, policy makers, and business people, as well as multimedia content and a daily digest of major environmental news. Yale Environment 360 is published by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and Yale University. We are funded in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The opinions and views expressed in Yale Environment 360 are those of the authors and not of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies or of Yale University.

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