In 2011, the US was able to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by two percent; however, besides Germany who was also able to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions, the world’s other top polluters only increased their emissions. Overall, the quantity of heat-trapping pollution that was discharged into the air increase in 2011 by 3 percent. Our international goal is to limit global warming to only 2 degrees; but with our rate of emissions, it is unlikely that we will able to stop the progression of global warming.
Fossil fuels are the main contributors of carbon dioxide emissions. Fossil fuels, such as coal and oil, are burned to produce significant amounts of energy, which we use to generate power and use in our cars. Coal is used in power plants to make electricity and oil is made into fuel that powers transportation. Last year, the world released 38.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the air, or 2.4 million pounds of carbon dioxide per second — a billion tons more than in 2010.
In 2009, almost 200 nations agreed on the 2-degree temperature goal. But it seems that gradually increasing amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, coupled with the fact that most carbon remains in the air for a century, dismisses the world’s hope for capping the growing global temperature.
China took the number one spot as the world’s biggest carbon dioxide polluter, up by 10 percent to contribute 10 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Though US emissions are down, we shouldn’t be hasty in patting America on the back — America’s emissions still outweigh India’s, a country whose population is three times that of the US.
In 1997, most of the world’s nations adopted the international environmental treaty called the Kyoto Protocol, which obligated developed countries, like the US, to decrease greenhouse gas emissions by almost 5 percent. Developing countries, such as China and India, were never held accountable for how much carbon dioxide they emitted. The US also never officially ratified the treaty – even though the treaty was signed, it only became a symbolic act and was never sent to the Senate for ratification.
The Global Carbon Project, created by the combined efforts of the Energy Department and the Norwegian Research Council, calculated the 2011 figures for the biggest polluters:
1. China, up 10 percent to 10 billion tons.
2. United States, down 2 percent to 5.9 billion tons
3. India, up 7 percent to 2.5 billion tons.
4. Russia, up 3 percent to 1.8 billion tons.
5. Japan, up 0.4 percent to 1.3 billion tons.
6. Germany, down 4 percent to 0.8 billion tons.
7. Iran, up 2 percent to 0.7 billion tons.
8. South Korea, up 4 percent to 0.6 billion tons.
9. Canada, up 2 percent to 0.6 billion tons.
10. South Africa, up 2 percent to 0.6 billion tons.
It is interesting to note that the top three largest emitters (China, USA and India) also have three largest population bases (China, India and USA), signifying flattening of global industrial production.
Conceived, Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan
January 3, 2013
Copyright 2013. All rights Reserved by Phinix, LLC.