The Global Carbon Project reports that carbon dioxide emissions, which are linked to climate change, extreme weather events and rising oceans haven reached record-breaking high levels this year.
Emissions High But Rate of Growth Slowing
New papers published in “Earth System Science Data,” “Environmental Research Letters” and “Nature Climate Change” contain the predictions from Global Carbon Project scientist Rob Jackson.
The papers highlight the fact that, although CO2 emissions are at a record high this year, and could (if dramatic actions aren’t taken by nations with regards to energy, transportation and industry) keep increasing for another decade, the actual rate of growth of CO2 emission levels has slowed noticeably from the last two years.
Highest Ever Levels Says World Meteorological Organisation
The World Meteorological Organisation’s annual report published this week also brought CO2 levels to the world’s attention when it concluded that carbon dioxide levels recently reached an all-time high. This is believed to be the highest level in human history. News from Yale’s Environment 360 report also warned that if current emission levels persist CO2 levels could reach 500 ppm in as little as 30 years. By contrast, it was around 310 ppm in 1960 and has been rising almost linearly. Currently, it’s at around 410 ppm.
Fossil Fuel Use
Fossil Fuel use accounts for 90% of all CO2 emissions. Although coal use is in decline globally, oil and natural gas use are still high, particularly so (high per capita emissions) in wealthier countries. Scientists have highlighted the fact, therefore, that affluent countries must drastically cut their CO2 emissions to offset the increase in emissions from developing countries as they turn to natural gas and gasoline for their growing transportation and energy needs.
In terms of a percentage breakdown, about 40% of global carbon dioxide emissions can be attributed to burning coal, 34% comes from the use of oil, 20% is thought to come from the use of natural gas, and the remaining 6% is thought to come from cement production (common in developed and rapidly developing countries), and from other sources.
Among the biggest CO2-emitting countries and regions are China, the U.S., Russia, India and Japan. In terms of biggest per capita CO2 producers, Saudi Arabia tops the table with a 16.85 per capita level of CO2 emissions. It has also been reported that the U.S, which has roughly one car per person, has an oil consumption per person that is 16 times greater than in India and six times greater than in China. Many climate protesters point to America’s large number of petrol-guzzling cars as being a major contributor to the problem.
Pulling Out of Climate Change Agreements
In November, President Donald Trump announced that he planned to withdraw the US from the Paris climate agreement. This is the agreement that was aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions to halt the rise in global temperatures (to stop melting ice caps, raising sea levels, killing wildlife, and the devastation of vast areas with flooding).
Many climate change and energy commentators have pointed to greater use of renewable, green energy sources (e.g. tidal, wind, solar) as being a way of bringing down CO2 levels while delivering many other environmental benefits. For example, a recent report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) suggested that the increased deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency in G20 countries (and globally) could reduce CO2 emissions from the energy sector by 70% by 2050, and completely phase them out by 2060.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
Climate change bringing a rise in temperature and a rise in CO2 emissions is now thought by many to be a global emergency. The increasing number of warnings from experts and scientists, coupled with climate change protests in cities around the world, and with Greta Thunberg proving to be a formidable spokesperson with a strong message from the next generation, mean that climate change, and how we should all take responsibility for our contribution to it (through recycling and cutting back on fossil fuel use) is an issue very much to the fore. This appears to be an emergency which affects businesses and individuals, and businesses that lead the way in playing their part in reducing their carbon footprint will be making changes now that will help them to compete, and their efforts will be valued by increasingly environment-conscious consumers who will be looking for products and services that deliver ‘green’ value, help them to feel good about themselves and their efforts, and reduce their own carbon footprint.