July 2011

Volume 20, Number 7

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Greenhouse Gases Reach Alarming High in 2010

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By Paula Melton

Energy-related carbon emissions spiked in 2010, reaching a record high of 30.6 gigatons worldwide, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). That’s 5% more than the previous high of 29.3 gigatons in 2008.

The global recession caused a dip in energy-related carbon emissions in 2009, but IEA reports that infrastructure investments have contributed to the emissions spike and that dollars poured into building new power plants have also “locked in” higher levels of CO2 emissions for the foreseeable future.

IEA says these numbers will make it extremely difficult to reach climate goals agreed upon by global leaders in 2010. According to IEA’s chief economist Faith Birol, Ph.D., “The world has edged incredibly close to the level of emissions that should not be reached until 2020 if the 2º C target is to be attained.”

Of the estimated CO2 emissions in 2010, 44% came from coal, 36% from oil, and 20% from natural gas.

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June 29, 2011