Worldwide Carbon Dioxide Emissions Reached Record Levels In 2013

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Global carbon dioxide emissions reached record levels in 2013, increasing by 2.3 percent, according to a new report by the Global Carbon Budget.

The report, published Sunday in Nature Geoscience, found that CO2 emissions in the U.S. increased by 2.9 percent, a departure from previous years of decline. It also found that, for the first time, China has overcome the European Union in emissions per capita. A person in China produced an average of 7.2 tons of carbon dioxide in 2013, while a person in Europe produced 6.8 tons and a person in the U.S. produced 16.4 tons. In India, average per capita carbon production in 2013 was only 1.9 tons.

According to the report, worldwide concentration of atmospheric CO2 was 43 percent higher in 2013 than it was at the start of the Industrial Revolution in 1750, and was higher in 2013 than at any point in the last 800,000 years. The report shows that action on climate change from major emitters needs to come now, one of the authors told the New York Times.

“You can no longer have some countries go first and others come in later, because there is no more time,” said Glen P. Peters, a scientist at the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research. “It needs to be all hands on deck now.”

Carbon emissions in China — the world’s number one emitter in 2013 — grew by 4.2 percent in 2013, and emissions in India grew by 5.1 percent. The authors of the report predict that global emissions will continue to increase in 2014, going up by 2.5 percent and bringing the world’s total carbon emissions to 40 billion tons.

The report’s findings mean that more than half of the world’s fossil fuel stores must stay in the ground if agreements to limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius are to be reached.

“We are nowhere near the commitments needed to stay below 2 degrees Celsius of climate change, a level that will be hard to reach for any country, including rich nations,” report co-author Corinne Le Quere told Bloomberg. “CO2 growth now is much faster than it was in the 1990s, and we’re not delivering the improvements in carbon intensity we anticipated 10 years ago.”

The report comes just days before the U.N. climate summit in New York, which falls outside of the regular, yearly climate negotiations and aims to “galvanize and catalyze climate action” leading up to the 2015 climate negotiations in Paris, a meeting during which a new global agreement is supposed to be reached. President Obama will speak at this year’s one-day summit, which is being held on Tuesday.