The bad news is that global carbon emissions are still going in one direction — up — while the latest round of international climate talks in Doha, Qatar, don’t appear to be going much of anywhere yet.
The good news is … well, there doesn’t seem to be any good news arriving these days on the climate or carbon front.
Late last month, the UN Environment Programme and the European Climate Foundation warned that, if swift action on a bold and global scale isn’t taken quickly, annual carbon emissions could shoot up to 58 gigatons by 2020 — far past the levels needed to prevent catastrophic warming of more than 2 degrees C.
Emissions in 2012 are expected to set yet another record high, reaching 35.6 gigatons, according to the latest figures from the Global Carbon Project. That’s 58 percent higher than 1990 levels, the baseline year for the Kyoto Protocol.
“These latest figures come amidst climate talks in Doha,” said Corinne Le Quéré, director of the UK-based Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and a professor at the University of East Anglia. “But with emissions continuing to grow, it’s as if no one is listening to the entire scientific community.”
And who are the world’s top carbon emitters? The list offers no surprises: China comes in first, with 28 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, followed by the US (16 percent), the European Union (11 percent) and India (7 percent).
“I am worried that the risks of dangerous climate change are too high on our current emissions trajectory,” said Le Quéré, who led the publication of the new Global Carbon Project data. “We need a radical plan.”