Sobering numbers from the International Energy Agency.
IEA's estimates for global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2011 are in. Draw your own conclusions.
Emissions in 2011: 31.6 gigatons*
Change from 2010: 1 gigaton CO2 increase (3.2%)
Sources of energy-related emissions:
Emissions in 2011: 5.3 gigatons**
Change from 2010: 0.092 gigaton CO2 decrease (1.7%)
Note: The decrease is primarily attributed to a warm winter and the switch from coal to natural gas -- part and parcel of the natural gas boom triggered by the application of horizontal drilling/hydraulic fracturing (fracking) techniques. For more on the fallout of the boom to the coal industry see this article in today's New York Times.
Emissions in 2011: 8.5 gigatons**
Change from 2010: 0.720 gigaton CO2 increase (9.2%)
Change in carbon intensity (emissions per unit of gross domestic product), 2005-2011: 15% decrease
OECD*** nations: 0.6% decrease
EU: 1.9% decrease
Japan: 2.4% increase (primarily due to the shutdown of nuclear reactors following Fukushima. Which begs the question: what is the future of nuclear power in Japan? Hard to say, although there's a new push to restart nuclear plants that are deemed safe.)
Non-OECD nations: 6.1% increase
India: 8.7% increase (moving it ahead of Russia as the world's fourth largest emitter)
For a 50 percent chance of avoiding a 2-degree Celsius increase in global temperatures (a goal of the Copenhagen Accord and the threshold many believe for avoiding dangerous climate change), the IEA estimates an annual emission limit that must peak no later than 2017. How large is that peak? 1 gigaton greater than 2011 emissions.
That's right, folks: 1 gigaton of CO2, the same increase we saw in the last year.
" One gigaton is the equivalent of one billion metric tons.
** IEA has not yet released emissions for individual countries. This is a calculated preliminary estimate that is lower than other estimates [xls].
*** The 34 member countries that make up the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) are: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States
Follow Bill Chameides on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TheGreenGrok