Carbon emissions in the United States may have dropped over the last two years, but global emissions rose 1.1 percent in 2012. This means the world pumped out 34.5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide, a new record. It also means that the global increase in emissions slowed from previous years.
A new analysis from the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency showed that even though global GDP rose 3.5 percent in 2012,
To stay below the two degrees Celsius threshold, global emissions from 2000 to 2050 have to stay below 1.0 to 1.5 trillion tonnes. But the world has emitted 466 billion tonnes since 2000, and last year the world polluted more than ever before. Predictions that the 2 degree target is “out the window” seem less like pessimism and more like reality.
Why is this happening? An infographic released by the agency shows how carbon emissions have grown over the course of the industrialized era, across the globe:
It is easy to see the leaders through 2010: the U.S. and Europe. Through 1989 the U.S. and Europe dominated global emissions. China started to make up ground and became the biggest carbon polluter in the world in 2006. This is clear from the bar graph, and the extrapolation to 2030 paints a fairly scary picture of how much more carbon could be pumped into the atmosphere.
Europe is actually slowing down their emissions, which could provide a model for the rest of the world.
The U.S. also emitted less carbon dioxide in 2012 than it did in 2011 through energy production, according to a report from the Energy Information Administration. The EPA released more data via its Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program last week, which confirmed that greenhouse gas emissions from power plants dropped 10 percent from 2010 to 2012. Total emissions from all U.S. sources dropped 4.5 percent from 2011 to 2012.