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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Emissions rise. Temperature projections too.

A couple of bad news items on the same day (May 24):

First, the International Energy Agency (IEA) reported that global carbon dioxide emissions in 2011 totaled 31.6 billion metric tons (tonnes), an all-time high and 1.0 billion tonnes (3.2%) above 2010: 

"Coal accounted for 45% of total energy-related CO2 emissions in 2011, followed by oil (35%) and natural gas (20%).

"The 450 Scenario of the IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2011, which sets out an energy pathway consistent with a 50% chance of limiting the increase in the average global temperature to 2°C [3.6 degrees F], requires CO2 emissions to peak at 32.6 [billion tonnes] no later than 2017, i.e., just 1.0 [billion tonnes] above 2011 levels." 

Meanwhile, researchers with a German project called the Climate Action Tracker said their monitoring of countries' progress in meeting their greenhouse gas emission reductions pledges indicates that global warming cannot be contained to 3.5 degrees Celsius (6.3 Fahrenheit):

Marion Vieweg, a policy researcher with German firm Climate Analytics, told AFP the 3.5 C (6.3 F) estimate had been based on the assumption that all countries will meet their pledges, in themselves inadequate, to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

"New research has found this is not 'a realistic assumption,' she said, adding that right now 'we can't quantify yet how much above' 3.5 C (6.3 F) Earth will warm."  Climate Action Tracker is a joint effort of Climate Analytics, Ecofys, and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

Update - 25 May 2012: Climate Progress has a new blog that covers the IEA info in more detail, noting that IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol says the emissions data are "perfectly in line" with a temperature rise of 6 degrees C (11 F), which would be somewhere well beyond catastrophic.

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