Report – Record High Amount of CO2 will be Released in 2014

Posted September 22nd, 2014 at 6:28 pm (UTC-4)
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Industrial pollution - one source of CO2 emissions (©Martin Muránsky/

Industrial pollution – one source of CO2 emissions (©Martin Muránsky/

A new report by the Global Carbon Project, an international science/environmental group, shows that the emission of carbon dioxide, one of the world’s top greenhouse gases – which scientists say leads to global warming – will not only rise once again in 2014, but will set a record high of 40 billion metric tons.

As the UN prepares to host its one day Climate Summit Tuesday at its New York headquarters, the report, which is an annual update to the group’s Global Carbon Budget, indicated that CO2 emissions that stem from fossil-fuel combustion and the production of cement grew by rate of 2.3 percent in 2013, with a record 36 billion metric tons of CO2 being produced. The report also predicted an additional 2.5 percent increase in CO2 emissions for 2014.

For a 66 percent chance of maintaining the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change goal of keeping average global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius, this new report indicates that the total amount of future CO2 emissions can’t exceed more than 1,200 metric tons.

The Global Carbon Project estimates that, at the current CO2 emission rate, this 1,200 metric ton quota would be used up in about 30 years.

The report shows that global CO2 emissions must be reduced by more than 5 percent each year over the next several decades to keep global warming below the 2 degrees Celsius goal.

Climate scientists contributing to the report said that unless new technologies to store carbon in the ground are developed and widely deployed, more than half of all the planet’s fossil fuel reserves may need to be left untouched to keep CO2 emissions below the 1,200 metric ton total.

global-warming-“The human influence on climate change is clear,” said Professor Corinne Le Quéré, director of the Tyndall Center for Climate Change at the UK’s University of East Anglia in a press release. “We need substantial and sustained reductions in CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels if we are to limit global climate change. We are nowhere near the commitments necessary to stay below 2 degrees Celsius of climate change, a level that will be already challenging to manage for most countries around the world, even for rich nations.”

Along with the CO2 emission projection for 2014, the update to the Global Carbon Budget also breaks the 2013 carbon dioxide emissions report into a country by country as well as a per capita breakdown.

Among the report’s key facts and figures:

  • China, the USA, the EU and India are the largest emitters – together accounting for 58 per cent of emissions.
  • China’s CO2 emissions grew by 4.2 per cent in 2013, the USA’s grew by 2.9 per cent, and India’s emissions grew by 5.1 per cent.
  • The EU decreased its emissions by 1.8 per cent, though it continues to export a third of its emissions to China and other producers through imported goods and services.
  • China’s CO2 emissions per person overtook emissions in the EU for the first time in 2013. China’s emissions are now larger than the US and EU combined. 16 per cent of China’s emissions are for goods and services which are exported elsewhere.
  • CO2 emissions are caused primarily by burning fossil fuels, as well as by cement production and deforestation. Deforestation accounts for 8 per cent of CO2 emissions.

The Global Carbon Budget 2014 also includes a number of individual studies conducted by various research organizations who contributed to the report.  These studies were published the journals, Nature Climate Change, Nature Geoscience and Earth System Science Data Discussions.

History of atmospheric CO2 from 800,000 years ago until January, 2012 (NOAA)

Rick Pantaleo
Rick Pantaleo maintains the Science World blog and writes stories for VOA’s web and radio on a variety of science, technology and health topics. He also occasionally appears on various VOA programs to talk about the latest scientific news. Rick joined VOA in 1992 after a 20 year career in commercial broadcasting.

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