Posts Tagged ‘World Meteorological Organization’

Great Recession Had Little Impact on CO2 Emissions

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

Worldwide CO2, emissions have risen by nearly 50 percent in the past several decades, with 2010 now holding the record as the year with the most greenhouse gas emissions on record.  Burning fossil fuels released more than 36 billion metric tons of CO2 in 2010, due primarily to growth in China, India, and the United States.  Deforestation is another core cause.

Going back half a century, nothing seems to have set back emissions for many years and that includes the Great Recession that started in late 2008, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change. Other studies indicate that mankind has burned approximately 50 percent of available fossil fuels if we don’t want the climate to warm by more than two degrees Celsius.  More to the point, we’ll need zero or negative emissions and emissions to peak sometime this decade to avoid any further warming.

Emissions rose approximately 510 million metric tons of carbon to reach 9.14 billion tons in 2010, the most in records dating to 1959, according to the Global Carbon Project.  That represents a 5.9 percent increase, the largest since 2003, when they jumped six percent.  The 2010 global emissions were 33.5 billion tons when converted to carbon dioxide.

“We’re going exactly in the wrong direction for limiting global warming,” said Corinne Le Quere, co-author of the Global Carbon Project’s report and a director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia, England.  “Governments need to develop ways to boost the economy using renewable energy,” she said.

“Global CO2 emissions since 2000 are tracking the high end of the projections used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which far exceed two degrees warming by 2100,” Le Quere said.  “Yet governments have pledged to keep warming below two degrees to avoid the most dangerous aspects of climate change, such as widespread water stress and sea level rise, and increases in extreme climatic events.”

There’s growing evidence that 2011 will almost certainly be the 10th warmest on record, and the hottest featuring the La Nina phenomenon that brings cooler waters to the surface of the Pacific Ocean, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).  “There’s clearly a warming trend.  That’s supported by other indicators such as disappearing Arctic sea ice, melting glaciers and rising sea levels,” Peter Stott, head of climate monitoring at the U.K. Met Office, whose own temperature estimates feed into the WMO data, said.

“The global financial crisis was an opportunity to move the global economy away from a high-emissions trajectory.  Our results provide no indication of this happening,” according to the study’s authors.  The study was issued at a planet-warming gases panelat U.N. climate talks in Durban, South Africa.

Writing on Times’ Ecocentric blog, Bryan Walsh notes that “The study underscores just how little we’ve done to slow the increase in carbon emissions. Since 1990 –the base year for the Kyoto Protocol –carbon emissions from fossil fuels have increased by 49 percent, making a mockery of that global treaty’s ambition to cut emissions by at least five percent.  And it’s getting worse –on average, fossil fuel emissions have risen by 3.1 percent a year between 2000 and 2010, three times the rate of increase seen during the 1990s, even as global warming has become a global concern.

According to a Nature blog, “What’s new in this analysis is that it puts the recovery in context with previous global crises.  It also updates a novel type of carbon dioxide accounting pioneered by lead author Glen Peters, who is at the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research in Oslo.  Usually, and under the Kyoto Protocol, carbon dioxide emissions are identified with the nation that produces them.  Yet rich countries have largely achieved cuts in CO2 emissions since 1990 by importing goods made elsewhere.  Around one-fifth of China’s emissions, for example, come from making goods demanded by consumers in other nations.  If you count the CO2 emissions embodied in final consumer demand, the study shows, Kyoto’s ‘developed’ countries are consuming more carbon dioxide now than they did in 1990 — although they report cuts in domestic production.  Even so, 2009 marked the first time that developing countries consumed more carbon dioxide than developed countries.  The crisis may not have fully passed, and it’s too early to tell whether the green stimulus packages introduced in recent years will have a positive impact, the study says.  For the moment it’s sobering to think that the pain caused by the financial crisis made but a small dent in global CO2 emissions.”

Rising Greenhouse Gases in the Air to Bring Stormy Weather

Monday, November 28th, 2011

The three gases that contribute the most to global warming rose to their highest levels ever, according to the United Nations (UN). Carbon dioxide, the most significant heat-trapping gas, rose 0.59 percent to 389 parts per million molecules of air, the UN’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said.  Methane rose 0.28 percent to 1,808 parts per billion; and nitrous oxide gained 0.25 percent to 323.2 parts per billion.  Rising greenhouse gas emissions threaten to “close the door” on limiting global temperature rises to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) during this century, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

“Even if we managed to halt our greenhouse-gas emissions today, and this is far from the case, they would continue to linger in the atmosphere for decades to come and so continue to affect the delicate balance of our living planet and our climate,” WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said.

Even worse, greenhouse gases rose faster in 2010 than the average over the past 10 years, according to the annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin.

Unfortunately, the report is bad news for the earth. Climate change will make droughts and floods like those that have battered the United States and other countries in 2011 more frequent, according to a new report, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  The report, that follows a two-year process, suggests that researchers are far more confident about the prospect of more hot weather and heavy rains than they are about how global warming is impacting hurricanes and tornadoes.  The new analysis highlights a broader trend: The world is facing a new reality of more extreme weather, as policymakers and business are beginning to adjust.

Gerald Meehl, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and one of the report’s reviewers, said it highlights why climate change is more than just a gradual rise in the global temperature reading.  “The fact is, a small change in average temperature can have a big impact on extremes,” Meehl said.  “It’s pretty straightforward. As average temperatures go up, it’s fairly obvious that heat extremes go up and (the number of) low extremes go down.”

“The time is now for this report,” said University of Illinois climate scientist Don Wuebbles, citing recent studies linking climate change to extreme weather.  “Scientific studies such as a report in the journal Nature have linked the deadly 2003 heat wave in Europe to climate change.”

CO2 levels are currently 389 parts per million, an increase from approximately 280 parts per million 250 years ago. According to WMO Deputy Secretary-General Jeremiah Lengoasa, CO2 emissions are to blame for about 80 percent of the rise.  But he noted the delay between what is emitted into the atmosphere and its impact on climate.  “With this picture in mind, even if emissions were stopped overnight globally, the atmospheric concentrations would continue for decades because of the long lifetime of these greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,” he said.

Representatives from a majority of the world’s nations are gathering to try to agree on how to avoid the worst of the climate disruptions that experts say will result if concentrations hit 450 parts per million.  At the present rate, that could happen within several decades, although some climate activists and at-risk nations say the world has already passed the danger point of 350 parts per million and must be undone.  According to the WMO, the 2.3 parts per million increase of CO2 in the atmosphere between 2009 and 2010 shows a speeding up when compared with the average 1.5 parts per million increase during the 1990s.  Since 1750, the WMO says, atmospheric concentrations of CO2 have jumped 39 percent; nitrous oxide has gone up 20 percent; and methane concentrations soared 158 percent.  Fossil fuel-burning, loss of forests that absorb CO2 and fertilizer use are the primary culprits.

Earlier this year, BP released data showing that global carbon dioxide emissions grew at their fastest rate since 1969 in 2010, as nations recovered from economic recession.  According to the WMO, greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere rose by 1.4 percent last year from 2009 and 29 percent since 1990.  The WMO measured the global amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, gathered from monitors in more than 50 nations, including natural emissions and absorption processes – known as sources and sinks – as well as human activity.

The WMO noted that methane is increasing following a brief period of “relative stabilization” between 1999 and 2006.  “Scientists are conducting research into the reasons for this, including the potential role of the thawing of the methane-rich Northern permafrost and increased emissions from tropical wetlands.”