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Emissions Targets in Doubt as CO2 Levels Reach Highest in History

The International Energy Agency reported that global carbon dioxide emissions reached its highest record in history last year, casting doubts whether various governments can meet the target emission level set.

The I.E.A. noted that the emissions rate soared to five percent marked of 30.6 gigatons, surpassing the previous carbon dioxide emissions record in 2008 which was at 29.3 gigatons. The group also highlighted that 44 percent of the estimated carbon dioxide emissions in 2010 came from coal, 36 percent from oil, and 20 percent from natural gas.

The agency expressed its doubt on the efforts to keep the earth’s temperature from rising beyond 2 degrees Celsius, saying that it has become a difficult challenge for governments to keep the temperature benchmark pact that was established in the Cancun climate change talks held last year.

“The world has edged incredibly close to the level of emissions that should not be reached until 2020 if the two-degrees Celsius target is to be attained,” the agency’s chief economist Dr. Fatih Birol said.

“Given the shrinking room for maneuver in 2020, unless bold and decisive decisions are made very soon, it will be extremely challenging to succeed in achieving this global goal agreed in Cancun,” Mr. Birol added.

For the 2 degree Celsius limit to be achieved, greenhouse gases in the atmosphere must be set at 450 parts per million of carbon dioxide-equivalent, only a five percent increase compared to an estimated 430 parts per million in 2000.

The agency also said that global energy-related emissions in 2020 must not be greater than 32 gigatons, which translate that over the next ten years, emissions must be lower in total than they were between 2009 and 2010. The I.E.A. has estimated that 80 percent of projected emissions from the power sector in 2020 have been locked, coming from power plants that are currently in place or under construction.


In lieu with the I.E.A.’s latest report, Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change said that countries must need to make progress on producing solutions to solve climate change issues.

She said that governments must devise a way to make nations work together to make significant cuts on global greenhouse gas emissions, which included the future of the Kyoto Protocol.

Another is the establishment of new climate institutions that will provide adequate and efficient climate support to developing countries.

“No nation will solve climate change alone. And no nation is alone in feeling its impacts. We’re only a few days away now from the mid-year climate negotiations and governments need to pick up speed,” Ms. Figueres said, pertaining to the up-coming climate talks that will be held in Bonn, Germany from June 6 to 17.

The United Nation’s Climate chief stressed last year on creating a new institution that will help allay the burden that developing countries would face upon adopting the environment initiative. She emphasized that agreements made during the Cancun talks must be executed quickly, and must be plotted around an effective system that will yield great progress.

By. Angelo Nonato P. Cabrera

Contributed by EcoSeed

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  • Anonymous on June 03 2011 said:
    Of course they reached their highest level. Who expected something else? "Pseudo intellectual" is an expression that was popular when I was in graduate school, and it should be revived, because that is precisely what we have on the part of certain persons who are trying to deal with climate/environmental issues.

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