Around the world, we are emitting more carbon dioxide than ever.
For 2012, according to new projections by the Global Carbon Project, there is likely to be a 2.6 percent rise in global CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels compared to the year before. That puts emissions of the gas at 58 percent higher than 1990 levels.
In 2011, China was the biggest producer of CO2, accounting for 28 percent of global emissions, researchers report in the journals Nature Climate Change and Earth System Science Data Discussions. The United States followed with 16 percent, the European Union with 11 percent and India with seven percent.
Regionally, emissions are increasing faster in some places than in others. In 2011, emissions grew in China by nearly 10 percent and in India by more than seven percent.
In the United States and the European Union, on the other hand, emission rates declined by a couple of percentage points.
Still, in emissions-per-person tallies, the United States led the way with more than 17 tons of CO2 released for every American. The European Union came next with just over seven tons per person. China was close behind and India was lowest, with slightly less than two tons emitted per person.
The findings, say the authors, add urgency to reports about how dangerously high levels of emissions are affecting the environment and society. Projections for 2012 make it seem less and less likely that we'll be able to stay within the international goal of keeping global warming below two degrees.
"These latest figures come amidst climate talks in Doha," said Corinne Le Quéré, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and professor at UEA in a press release. "But with emissions continuing to grow, it's as if no one is listening to the entire scientific community."
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