By Seth Borenstein, AP
Sunday, Dec 2, 2012
The amount of heat-trapping pollution the world spewed rose again last year by 3 percent. So scientists say it’s now unlikely that global warming can be limited to a couple degrees, which is an international goal.
The overwhelming majority of the increase was from China, the world’s biggest carbon dioxide polluter. Of the planet’s top 10 polluters, the United States and Germany were the only countries that reduced their carbon dioxide emissions.
Last year, all the world’s nations combined pumped nearly 38.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the air from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and oil, according to new international calculations on global emissions published Sunday in the journal Nature Climate Change. That’s about a billion tons more than the previous year.
The total amounts to more than 2.4 million pounds of carbon dioxide released into the air every second.
Because emissions of the key greenhouse gas have been rising steadily and most carbon stays in the air for a century, it is not just unlikely but “rather optimistic” to think that the world can limit future temperature increases to 2 degrees, said the study’s lead author, Glen Peters at the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research in Oslo, Norway.
The latest pollution numbers, calculated by the Global Carbon Project, a joint venture of the Energy Department and the Norwegian Research Council, show that worldwide carbon dioxide levels are 54 percent higher than the 1990 baseline.
The 2011 figures for the biggest polluters:
1. China, up 10 percent to 10 billion tons.
2. United States, down 2 percent to 5.9 billion tons
3. India, up 7 percent to 2.5 billion tons.
4. Russia, up 3 percent to 1.8 billion tons.
5. Japan, up 0.4 percent to 1.3 billion tons.
6. Germany, down 4 percent to 0.8 billion tons.
7. Iran, up 2 percent to 0.7 billion tons.
8. South Korea, up 4 percent to 0.6 billion tons.
9. Canada, up 2 percent to 0.6 billion tons.
10. South Africa, up 2 percent to 0.6 billion tons.