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FOCUS - CO2 Emissions

       Late 2006 saw the publication of the Stern Review on The Economics of Climate Change, which emphasizes the major economic costs of climate change under different emission scenarios and suggests that early action to curb emissions will reduce costs substantially.  The Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change published the fourth in its series of reports on the current scientific understanding of the impacts of climate change on natural, managed and human systems.  The reports deem human causation of climate change to be very likely. 

Therefore, as a response to this renewed attention to climate change, this years Focus section of The Little Green Data Book is on climate change, taking a closer look at carbon dioxide emissions.

Trends in global carbon dioxide emissions

Emissions worldwide topped 27 billion metric tons in 2003, an increase of 19 percent over 1990 levels.  During that time the relative share of emissions coming from high-income and developing countries has changed substantially.

 Billions of metric tons


Table 1

Source: Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center.

Global Distribution of carbon dioxide, 2003

In 2003 nearly half the world's carbon dioxide emissions from cement manufacturing and the combustion of high fossil fuels came from high-income countries.  The largest emitter is the United States. In the developing world, China and India are the major emitters.

 Share of carbon dioxide emissions


Table 2 Final 

Note: The EMU aggregate in the figures includes the member states of the Economic and Monetary Union of the European Union that have adopted the euro as their currency: Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, and Spain

The six largest emitters of carbon dioxide...

In 2003, 22 percent of total world emissions originated in the United States, followed by China, with 16 percent. Despite the substantial drop during the 1990s, the Russian Federation is the fourth largest emitter, followed closely by India and Japan.

 Billions of metric tons


 Table 3 Final

Source: World Bank, World Development Indicators 2007, table 3.8.s

. . . differ substantially in per capita emissions

Global representation for the top six carbon dioxide emitters is very different once population is taken into account.

 Metric tons per capita


Table 4 Final

Source: World Bank, World Development Indicators 2007, table 3.8.

Kyoto Protocol and the industrilazed world

Under the Kyoto Protocol, ratifying countries agreed to cut their 1990 emissios of greenhouse gases by amounts averaging 5.2 percent by 2008-12.  Most industrial countries will not meet the target and the United States never signed the protocol.

 Change in Emissions from Annex 1 countries (millions of metric tons)


Table 5 Final

Source: World Bank estimates and Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center.

Developing countries and the need for a new regulatory framework

Worldwide, emissions increased 4 billion metric tons between 1990 and 2003.  In addition to the emissions coming mainly from industrialized countries, emissions increased substantially from China (1.7 billion metric tons) and India (0.6 million metric tons).

 Changes in emissions from non-Annex 1 countries (millions of metric tons)


Table 6

Source: Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center.

Emissions by source, industrial countries, 2000

Carbon dioxide emissions in industrial countires are linked mainly to the production of electricity and heat, manufacturing and construction, transportation, and other fuel combustion activities.

 Millions of metric tons


Table 7 Final

Source: World Resources Institute.

Emissions by source, developing countries, 2000

In the developing world, carbon dioxide emissions stem mostly from deforestation and the production of certain agricultural products.  Electricity and heat generation is also an increasing source of emissions.

 Millions of metric tons


table 8

Source: World Resources Institute.

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