Greenhouse gas emissions from rich countries fell a record 7 percent in 2009 because of the recession, but the cut was entirely nullified by steep increases from fast-growing China and India, according to one of Europe’s leading scientific research groups.
Overall, this meant annual global climate emissions remained steady for the first time since 1992, says the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency which drew on energy-use data from the US government, the EU, BP energy data, the cement industry, and elsewhere.
But the Dutch government-funded agency, which in 2007 was the first to correctly identify that China had overtaken the US as the world’s greatest greenhouse gas polluter, warned that the figures did not mean that rich countries had cleaned up their act.
“A large part of production capacity has been suspended, but this could be re-employed as soon as the economy improves. It is likely that a recovering economy would cause emission levels in industrialised countries to go up. Nevertheless, the economic downturn has meant that these countries can meet their reduction obligations with more ease,” said NEAA spokeswoman Anneke Oosterhuis.