Australian report shows emissions increase "more than doubled since the 1990s"

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

CO2 Bubbles

Atmospheric scientists warn that greenhouse gas emissions are increasing more rapidly, despite global efforts to curb the use of fossil fuels, new research by Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) shows.

According to CSIRO research scientist Dr Mike Raupach, 7.9 billion tonnes of carbon were emitted into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide in 2005 - a doubling in the rate of increase since 1990 - and the rate of increase continues to accelerate.

Data from the Cape Grim air pollution monitoring station in north-west Tasmania shows carbon dioxide emissions have increased by 2.5% each year for the past five years. "From 2000 to 2005, the growth rate of carbon dioxide emissions was more than 2.5% per year, whereas in the 1990s it was less than 1% per year," Dr Raupach says.

Dr Raupach, who co-chairs the international Global Carbon Project also, was surprised by his research results. "It shows recent efforts globally to reduce emissions have had little impact on emissions growth," he said. The CSIRO found that in global terms, China has the highest current growth rate in CO2 emissions although it's emissions per person are below the global average. China's accumulated contribution since the start the 1800s is only five per cent of the global total. The USA and Europe have each contributed more than 25% of accumulated global emissions.

Carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere — a separate measure to carbon emissions — had also increased at an unprecedented rate. Dr Paul Fraser, also from CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, said that atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide grew by two parts per million in 2005, the fourth year in a row of above-average growth. "To have four years in a row of above-average carbon dioxide growth is unprecedented," Dr Fraser said.

He said the trend over recent years suggests the growth rate is accelerating, "signifying that fossil fuels are having an impact on greenhouse gas concentrations in a way we haven’t seen in the past."