THEGREENGROK    Statistically Speaking

CO2 Emissions for 2011

by Bill Chameides | May 30th, 2012
posted by Erica Rowell (Editor)

Permalink | 5 comments


Sobering numbers from the International Energy Agency.

IEA’s estimates for global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2011 are in. Draw your own conclusions.

Global CO2 Emissions

Emissions in 2011: 31.6 gigatons*
Change from 2010: 1 gigaton CO2 increase (3.2%)

Sources of energy-related emissions:

  • 45% coal,
  • 35% oil,
  • 20% natural gas.

U.S. CO2 Emissions

Emissions in 2011: 5.3 gigatons**
Change from 2010: 0.092 gigaton CO2 decrease (1.7%)

Note: The decrease is primarily attributed to a warm winter and the switch from coal to natural gas — part and parcel of the natural gas boom triggered by the application of horizontal drilling/hydraulic fracturing (fracking) techniques. For more on the fallout of the boom to the coal industry see this article in today’s New York Times.

China’s Emissions

Emissions in 2011: 8.5 gigatons**
Change from 2010: 0.720 gigaton CO2 increase (9.2%)
Change in carbon intensity (emissions per unit of gross domestic product), 2005-2011: 15% decrease

Other Percent Changes, 2010–2011

OECD*** nations: 0.6% decrease
EU: 1.9% decrease
Japan: 2.4% increase (primarily due to the shutdown of nuclear reactors following Fukushima. Which begs the question: what is the future of nuclear power in Japan? Hard to say, although there’s a new push to restart nuclear plants that are deemed safe.)
Non-OECD nations: 6.1% increase
India: 8.7% increase (moving it ahead of Russia as the world’s fourth largest emitter)

Dangerous Climate Change

For a 50 percent chance of avoiding a 2-degree Celsius increase in global temperatures (a goal of the Copenhagen Accord and the threshold many believe for avoiding dangerous climate change), the IEA estimates an annual emission limit that must peak no later than 2017. How large is that peak? 1 gigaton greater than 2011 emissions.

That’s right, folks: 1 gigaton of CO2, the same increase we saw in the last year.


End Notes

“ One gigaton is the equivalent of one billion metric tons.

** IEA has not yet released emissions for individual countries. This is a calculated preliminary estimate that is lower than other estimates [xls].

*** The 34 member countries that make up the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) are: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States

filed under: carbon dioxide, carbon dioxide emissions, climate change, coal, energy, faculty, fossil fuels, fracking, global warming, natural gas, nuclear power, oil, Statistically Speaking, weather
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  1. MattN
    Jul 9, 2012

    No Doc, you are wrong.

    Only GISS shows that. The other 3 metrics (Hadley, UAH, and RSS) have 1998 clearly as #1. 3 out of 4. Might call that a “consensus”, no??

    • Bill Chameides
      Jun 23, 2012
      • MattN
        Aug 3, 2012

        NCDC and GISS use the exact same data. Don’t you know where all that stuff comes from?

        Again: RSS, UAH, and Hadley still have 1998 as the warmest year on record. 3 out of 4 of the major indicied cited by the IPCC. 2012 isn’t going to break it either…

  2. MattN
    Jun 9, 2012

    “the switch from coal to natural gas” Isn’t this what “you people” wanted? Same amount of energy, less carbon? The energy in a hydrocarbon comes from the hydro(gen) part, and there are simply more hydrogen atoms per carbon atom in a molecule of natural gas than anything else. I figured “you people” would actally celebrate this. And looking a little further, US CO2 emissions have dropped 7.7% since 2006, the largest of any country. Why no celebration for THAT? And we did it WITHOUT some silly Kyoto protocol nonsense. And can you please stop with the “dangerous climate change” rhetoric? It’s been 14 years since the warmest year on record (1998) occured and every year that passes without breaking that record while global CO2 emissions continue to increase just proves how wrong that line of thinking is… Matt(6/9/12)

    • Bill Chameides
      Jul 9, 2012

      MattN: Check your data — 2005 and 2010 are ranked as the hottest years on record for global average temperatures. 1998 is now 3rd on the list.

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