Record Greenhouse Gas Emissions in 2010

Carbon-dioxide emission levels are once again on the rise following a slight decrease in 2009. The International Energy Agency (IEA) reports that worldwide emissions totaled 30.6 billion metric tons in 2010, a new record and a 5% increase over 2009. Some experts were hoping that the global recession experienced in 2009 would lead to decreased and more efficient energy use. This does not seem to be the case. The IEA also reports that an estimated 80% of projected emissions for 2020 from the power industry are locked in.

Many experts and global leaders agree that a target of limiting temperature increase to 2°C by 2020 should be set. In order to achieve the 450 parts per million of CO2 required for this scenario, emissions can only reach 32 billion metric tons by 2020. That means that over the next ten years, the global emissions increase must be less than the total increase between 2009 and 2010.

Europe, the U.S., and Australia combined produced approximately half of the total global CO2 emissions with China and India close behind. In fact, these five regions together produced 24.9 billion metric tons of the total 30.6 billion metric tons. 44% of the total emissions came from coal, 36% from oil and 20% from natural gas.

This information comes as representatives from almost 190 countries gather in Bonn to begin talks on laying the groundwork for the UN climate change conference in Durban, set to take place at the end of 2011. It also comes at a time when the Kyoto Protocol is about to run out, the only internationally binding legal document requiring developed nations to cut emissions. The results of the meetings in Bonn and the renewal of the Kyoto Protocol are extremely important for the future of climate change policy and regulation.

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