After falling dramatically post-crisis, global carbon emissions from fossil fuels have not only rebounded but reached a new record high of 9.1 gigatons in 2010, according to the latest figures from the Global Carbon Project (GCP). With the additional impact of emissions from changes in land use, that figure rises to a full 10 gigatons.
“In terms of carbon dioxide emissions, it is as if the 2008-2009 global financial crisis did not happen,” said Glen Peters of CICERO (the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research), who is lead author of the GCP analysis. “Many saw the (global financial crisis) as an opportunity to move the global economy away from persistent and high emissions growth, but the return to emissions growth in 2010 suggests the opportunity was not exploited.”
The 2010 increase in emissions marked both the highest annual growth recorded — 0.51 gigatons — as well as the highest annual growth rate since 2003. And if climate negotiators currently meeting in Durban, South Africa, needed any more sense of urgency, the GCP analysis projects that emissions are likely to keep growing by 3.1 percent this year.
The annual analysis from the GCP attributes the increase to both strong emissions growth in emerging economies and a return to emissions growth in developed economies.
Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide now stand at 389.6 parts per million — the highest recorded in at least the past 800,000 years.