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- Dec. 5, 2012 -

Green Supply Chain News: Amid Doha Gloom, News that CO2 Levels Keep Rising


Major Accord Seems Unlikely at 2012 UN Climate Meetings, as Some Say Rising CO2 Levels May Make Soon Make it Too Late to Keep Temperatures Manageable

By The Green Supply Chain Editorial Staff

The Green Supply
Chain Says:

In fact, despite all focus on the carbon emissions, the new article says that the average increases in global CO2 levels were 1.9% in the 1980s, 1.0% in the 1990, but 3.1% since 2000.

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As the UN climate change meetings continue almost under the radar in Doha, Qatar, news this week that global carbon emissions continue to rise, to the point where many environmentalists are saying the world’s ability to contain rising global temperatures is about gone.

The UN meetings that started last week are clearly the least publicized of any of the annual conclaves in recent years. In 2011, the meeting in Durban, South Africa ended with a very loose agreement to in effect reach an agreement by 2015, hardly a meaningful outcome. (See Environmentalists Cheer Last Minute Climate Accord in Durban, but Agreement is Very Weak.) This year’s result seems likely to be even more disappointing to most of those concerned about man-made global warming.

While some hold out hope for an extension of some kind to the 1997 Kyoto agreement that expires this year, optimism does not appear to be high, dampened in large measure by still shaky economic times that make it difficult for countries to make commitments that would cause short term economic pain even in the name of potential long-term environmental benefits.

"There’s no certainty of what will come next," says Jennifer Morgan, head of the climate and energy program at the World Resources Institute. "And of course in these economic times, it is a difficult discussion and it’s definitely one that will go until the end game."

Amid this somber mood during the meeting clearly less prominent in terms of the news cycle versus recent years, other news was announced that CO2 emissions continue to rise, not decline, leading some climatologists to say the opportunities to keep global warming within manageable levels is starting to, well, evaporate.

Global carbon emissions will rise by about 2.6% in 2012, after increasing 3% in 2011, meaning the world's nations burned enough fossil fuels to pump nearly 35.6 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide into the air. That's about a billion tons more than the previous year and 58% above 1990 levels, according to a new article in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Consider that the Kyoto Protocol, approved by many nations in 1997 but not the US, required developed countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 5% when compared with the baseline year of 1990 – and those developed countries themselves are nowhere near that goal. Additionally, developing countries such as China and India were not assigned limits (and generally did not agree to the Kyoto rules) and continue to produce significant increases in emissions.

In fact, despite all focus on the carbon emissions, the new article says that the average increases in global CO2 levels were 1.9% in the 1980s, 1.0% in the 1990, but 3.1% since 2000. That result even as most developed economies have been reducing CO2 emissions or keeping them flat, while levels from China, India and other developing economies rise sharply.

Not surprisingly, the overwhelming majority of the increase came from China, the world's largest carbon dioxide emitter.

In contrast, The United States and Germany were the only countries of the top ten biggest CO2 sources that reduced their carbon dioxide emissions last year.

Because emissions of the key greenhouse gas keep rising steadily and most carbon stays in the air for as long as 100 years, it is not just unlikely but "rather optimistic" to think that the world can limit future temperature increases to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees F), said the study's lead author, Glen Peters at the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research in Oslo, Norway. That rise of no more than 2% C in average temperatures versus 1990 has been the stated goal of UN and other climate change-related organizations.

Andrew Weaver
, a climate scientist at the University of Victoria in Canada who was not part of the study, said: "We are losing control of our ability to get a handle on the global warming problem," the Associated Press reports.

Below is a list of the top carbon emitter in 2011, according to the new article:


Top CO2 Emitters in 2011
CO2 Emission Levels (billion tons)
Change 2011
South Korea
South Africa


"Places like India and China have no appetite for this, which makes our attempts to reduce emissions through regulatory dictate, extremely expensive and very ineffective if the goal is to reduce global emissions and curb global temperatures," Nick Loris, an economist at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said this week.

What's your reaction to this recent news on CO2 emissions? Is it really too late to make a meaningful impact on rising temperatures? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback button below.


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