Greenhouse gas emissions from rich countries still increasing

Almost half of the signatory states to the Kyoto protocol have reached their emission targets. Still overall grenhouse gas emissions is increasing. The USA alone was responsible for over two thirds of the increase in 2007.

Emissions of the main greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) from industrialized countries grew by 145 million tonnes in 2007, with the United States accounting for over 100 million tonnes. In total, the US emitted 7.1 billion tonnes of CO2 in 2007. The 27-nation European Union cut its emissions by 1.4 percent to five billion tonnes in 2007, 12.3 per cent below 1990 levels. Germany saw the largest net decrease, cutting CO2 by 23.9 million tonnes or 2.4 per cent. There were huge differences in greenhouse gas emission trends between the various EU member states since 1990. In the biggest fall, Latvia’s emissions were 54.7 per cent below 1990 in 2007, while Spain had the biggest rise, 53.5 per cent above 1990.

Under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, around 40 industrialized countries have committed to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 5.2 per cent below 1990 levels by 2008–2012. Close to half of the signatories have already reached their Kyoto targets, though largely due to economic restructuring and the closure of industry in eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union, rather than through investment in cleaner energy or energy efficiency.

Overall, greenhouse gas emissions from industrialized nations rose by nearly one percent in 2007, much of this was due to increases in the US, one of the few industrialized countries that has not signed up to the Kyoto Protocol.
   Carbon emissions from countries that have signed up to the Kyoto Protocol increased by 0.1 percent in 2007, mainly due to rises in Japan and Canada.
   Canada’s emissions rose by four percent in 2007, putting the country’s CO2 emissions at 29 per cent over 1990 levels. With a rise of 2.3 per cent in 2007, Japan is also significantly above its own six per cent reduction target.

Source: Reuters, 20 and 23 April 2009

In this issue