Global pollution 'at all-time high'
Published 02/12/2012 | 18:59
Global carbon dioxide emissions are set to rise again in 2012 to new record highs, scientists have warned as United Nations talks on tackling climate change continue.
Emissions of the most significant greenhouse gas from burning fossil fuels are projected to have risen by 2.6% on last year's levels to a high of 35.6 billion tonnes, analysis from the Global Carbon Project shows.
This year's carbon emissions will be 58% above levels in 1990, the baseline year for the original Kyoto Protocol which aimed to curb the gases which cause climate change, research published in the journal Nature Climate Change reveals.
The latest rise means the gap between actual emissions and the levels of pollution the world can emit and still prevent temperatures rising by more than 2C above pre-industrial levels has widened further still.
Researchers warn that unless large and concerted global efforts to cut emissions start very soon, the goal of limiting temperature rises to 2C and avoiding the worst impacts of climate change will quickly become unachievable.
The world is on track for rises of 4C to 6C by the end of the century, according to scientists at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia which co-led the research.
It is the latest warning about the state of the climate, following research which shows that sea levels are rising faster than predicted and ice sheets were melting three times faster than they were in the 1990s.
Officials from almost 200 countries meeting in Doha, Qatar, for talks on climate change are under pressure to make progress towards a new deal to curb global emissions in 2015, which would come into effect in 2020.
Professor Corinne Le Quere, director at the Tyndall Centre and who led the publication of the data, said: "These latest figures come amidst climate talks in Doha. But with emissions continuing to grow, it's as if no one is listening to the entire scientific community.
"I am worried that the risks of dangerous climate change are too high on our current emissions trajectory. We need a radical plan."