Worldwide emissions rise

New York, USA (GLOBE-Net) – Worldwide carbon dioxide emissions continue to rise, according to a new report by the World Bank. Emissions by developing countries are on the rise, but most still come from rich industrialized nations, says the Little Green Data Book 2006.

According to the book, which is an annual collection of data from the World Development Indicators provided by the bank, CO2 emissions exceeded 24 billion metric tons in 2002 (the most recent comprehensive data available), a 15 percent increased compared to 1992 levels.

The United States remains the world’s largest emitter, contributing 24 percent of total emissions, while European Union members contribute 10 percent.

Canada, with 0.5% of the world’s population, contributes 2.1% of global CO2 emissions. This translates to 16.5 metric tonnes of CO2 per capita each year, and 0.6 kilograms per unit of GDP output. The United States has 4.5% of the world’s population, emitting 20.2 tonnes of CO2 per capita each year, and 0.5 kilograms per unit of GDP output.

Canada currently emits 35% more than the reduction target set by the Kyoto Protocol, and is looking for a more flexible approach, according to a national greenhouse gas report and working paper submitted to the United Nations last week.

See article: Canada wants Kyoto softened.

Canadians continue to use high levels of energy, using 8,240 kilograms of oil equivalent per person each year, compared to an average of 5,410 kg/yr among high income nations. High income countries use 51 percent of the world’s energy.

Rapid growth in India and China is contributing to a sharp increase in their emissions. China is the world’s second largest emitter, increasing emissions by one-third from 1992 to 2002. India’s CO2 releases grew 57 percent in the same period, trends that are expected to continue with economic expansion.

The increase in China comes even with large improvements in energy efficiency. In 1992, 4.8 kg of CO2 were produced for each dollar of GDP, while that figure dropped to 2.5 kg/$GDP by 2002.

Developing countries as a whole contribute less than industrialized nations, but the developing world’s share is starting to rise. From 2000 to 2002, global carbon dioxide emissions increased by 2.5 percent annually, and two thirds of that rise can be attributed to low and middle income countries.

According to Steen Jorgensen, Acting Vice-President for Sustainable Development at the World Bank, “This reality shows us that we need to find creative ways to engage all major economies of the world to solve a global problem such as climate change.”

“All countries are vulnerable to climate change,” says Warren Evans, Environment Director, World Bank, “but the poorest countries are the most exposed, and have the least means to adapt to it. Climate change may hamper efforts to reduce poverty in agriculture-dependent countries in Africa and low-lying coastal areas. Climate proofing development initiatives is an urgent need in order to avoid human disasters.”

One market-based incentive to reduce emissions, carbon credit trading, has expanded rapidly and is now a commodity worth billions annually, says another report released by the World Bank this week.

See article: Carbon markets swell to $10 billion.

The energy sector contributes the vast majority (80%) of greenhouse gas emissions, while the agriculture sector accounts for the remaining 20 percent. Rising oil prices have increased the use of coal for power generation.

“Coal is by far the main source of energy for electricity generation,” says Jamal Saghir, Director Energy & Water, World Bank. “The relevance of coal has increased over time, particularly in low-income countries where the share of electricity generated by coal has shifted from 41 percent in 1990 to 46 percent in 2003. In China, the use of coal has increased from 71 percent in 1990 to 79 percent in 2003. In India, the increment has been from 65 percent to 68 percent.”

Many rural and urban poor around the world depend on wood and other biomass burning for heat and cooking, causing air pollution and severe health problems. These same populations depend on local ecosystems and natural food systems for subsistence.

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