Rising carbon dioxide emissions in developing world undercut climate deal

Michael Bastasch | Energy Editor

As delegates from around the world meet in Qatar to discuss a global agreement to cut greenhouse gases, the increased burning of fossil fuels and cement production have caused global carbon dioxide emissions to continue to rise.

Research from the Global Carbon Project projects an increase of 2.6 percent in global carbon emissions in 2012 to a record high of 35.6 billion tons of CO2.

Despite U.S. and European Union carbon emissions decreasing in 2011, countries like China and India are increasing their carbon emissions, undercutting the impetus for a global climate deal.

“Places like India and China have no appetite for this, which makes our attempts to reduce emissions through regulatory dictate, extremely expensive and very ineffective if the goal is to reduce global emissions and curb global temperatures,” Nick Loris, an economist at the conservative Heritage Foundation, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Carbon emissions from China grew by 10 percent from 2010 to 2011, and emissions from India grew 7.5 percent during that time period.

China alone was responsible for 80 percent of the growth of global carbon emissions in 2011. China’s share of the total carbon emissions that year was 28 percent while India’s was 7 percent. The U.S. emitted only 16 percent of global emissions and the E.U. emitted 11 percent.

The World Resources Institute estimates that nearly 2,000 new coal-fired plants, with a generating capacity of 1.4 million megawatts are being proposed across 59 countries. Taken together, China and India account for 76 percent of the proposed new coal-fired capacities. (RELATED: EPA continues multimillion dollar crackdown on glass manufacturing)

“Those countries, especially those two, aren’t really interested in cutting CO2 emissions to curb their economic growth,” Loris said. “I think given the fact that so many of the developing countries are unwilling to reduce their coal consumption, it makes an international deal almost impossible.”

Furthermore, developing countries accounted for 60 percent of all carbon emissions in 2011, but emitted less per person than developed nations. In 1990, developing nations only accounted for 35 percent of global carbon emissions.

“Fossil fuels play a very central role in global economic development but raise serious implications for the Earth’s climate,” Gregg Marland, one of the researchers and professor at Appalachian State University’s Research Institute for Environment, Energy, and Economics

“With a growing global population and consumption-oriented economic growth it is hard to be optimistic about the changing global climate system,” Marland said.

The only binding international agreement that addresses global warming is the Kyoto Protocol, which the U.S. never ratified. There is an effort to extend the Kyoto Protocol — set to expire this year — but Russia, Japan and Canada want out and argue that setting reducing more emissions is pointless when developing countries like China and India will not forced to cut emissions as well.

In 2009, UN delegates met in Copenhagen, Denmark and agreed to limit the global average surface temperature increase to a two degrees Celsius. That same year, growth in carbon emissions was briefly muted by the global financial crisis, but as the global economy recovered so did carbon emissions.

“There’s no real global commitment to doing something like that,” Loris added. “It makes meetings like Doha … more of a formality than anything serious, where a deal might be brokered to reach some sort of agreement.”

“Even the United States hasn’t made any commitment,” he added. “The only reason our emissions are down is because we’re in a recessionary environment and there’s been a huge boom in natural gas production.”

“That wasn’t a result of any mandate, it was a result of the way the economy unfolded,” Loris said, adding that the only effort to reduce carbon emissions in the U.S. comes from the EPA.

“The EPA is implementing regulations through the back door that will curb CO2 and will come at an extreme cost,” he said.

This GCP research was led by members of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia — the same university where researchers were implicated in the Climategate email scandal.

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