Temps set to soar as emissions grow: report

Temps set to soar as emissions grow: report

Temps set to soar as emissions grow: report

Updated 3 December 2012, 9:32 AEDT

The latest snapshot from climate scientists finds the planet is on track for a 4 to 6 degree Celsius temperature rise by the turn of the century.

The latest snapshot from climate scientists has found the planet is on track for a 4 to 6 degree Celsius temperature rise by the turn of the century.

As United Nations climate talks enter their final week in Doha on the Persian Gulf, scientists are increasing the pressure on governments to do more to cut the discharge of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

The Global Carbon Project report, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, has calculated that emissions rose by 3 per cent last year, and 2.6 per cent this year, despite the weak global economy.

Pep Canadell from the CSIRO was one of the lead authors of the report, and says the growth in emissions is shocking.

"Our analysis showed that by the end of this year, 2012, global emissions from fossil fuels are set to reach an unprecedented amount of 26 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide," he told AM.

"Just to put this thing in perspective, this is 58 per cent over 1990, which is the Kyoto Protocol reference year, and growing at about three times faster than they were growing during the 90s."

What do you think about the report's findings? Have your say.

He says on current trends, governments globally will have no chance of averting dangerous climate change.

"We are now following perfectly on track of the emissions path that will take us to anywhere between 4 and 6 degrees by 2100, if we don't do anything different from what we are doing now," he said.

That figure is at least double the 2 degree target set by UN members struggling for a global deal on climate change.

According to the study, a few big developing nations are fuelling the emissions growth.

China's carbon emissions grew 9.9 per cent in 2011 after rising 10.4 per cent in 2010, and now comprise 28 per cent of all carbon dioxide emissions, compared with 16 per cent for the United States.

Dr Canadell says he is surprised by this year's emissions growth, given the US and Europe are in financial turmoil.

"Of the growth we've seen specifically last year, in 2011, 80 per cent came from the growth in emissions in China and the rest [was] split among the rest of the emerging economies in the developing world," he said.

"We have seen some decline in Europe and the US and we are wondering if this decline may disappear... as these regions move out of the economic crisis that still is underway."

Improvement stalls

Globally, the improvement in the carbon intensity of economies, a measure of carbon emissions per unit of gross domestic product, has stalled since 2005, according to the study, which analysed data from the US government, the United Nations and statistics from oil company BP.

Emissions in 2011 from coal totalled 43 per cent, oil 34 per cent, with gas and cement production making up the rest.

The authors say while it was technically still possible to limit warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, emissions growth would have to rapidly come to a halt and then fall quickly.

"Unless large and concerted global mitigation efforts are initiated soon, the goal of remaining below 2 degrees Celsius will soon become unachievable," they said.

Each year of 3 per cent emissions growth made achieving the temperature limit even less likely and ever more costly.

It would require a rapid shift to greener energy and even net negative emissions in the future, where more CO2 is taken out of the air than added.

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