Global carbon dioxide pollution rose by three percent in 2011 to roughly 38.2 billion pounds, according to new international calculations published in the journal Nature Climate Change on Sunday.
Scientists now believe that, because of the increase in heat-trapping pollution entering the atmosphere, it is now unlikely that global warming will be limited to a couple of degrees — an international goal, reports Boston.com.
The new numbers show an increase of about a billion tons from 2010, with China causing an overwhelming majority of the increase. China is the world’s largest carbon dioxide producer. For the planet’s top 10 polluters, only the United States and Germany were able to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions.
Emissions of the greenhouse gas have been rising steadily and the majority of carbon stays in the air for about 100 years. Glen Peters, the study’s lead author who works at the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research in Oslo, Norway, stated that it is not just unlikely, but “rather optimistic” to think that the world will be able to limit future temperature increases to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).
Almost 200 nations set the two-degree Celsius temperature goal three years ago when they signed the nonbinding Kyoto agreement. Peters believes the only way that we will be able to reach that goal now and start reducing world emissions is to “throw everything we have at the problem.”
While the US and the EU were able to slightly reduce their emissions, it has not been enough to offset China, who is responsible for about 80 percent of the rise carbon pollution rise last year, notes The Telegraph. A study by the Global Carbon Project shows that, should levels of carbon dioxide continue to increase at this level, we will most likely see global warming at four to six degrees Celsius by the end of the century.
The second study was carried out by the Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia. Professor Corinne Le Quere, a lead author of the study, explained that the new figures prove countries will have to drastically reduce carbon pollution in order to keep temperature rise withing the “safe” limit. Le Quere added:
“These latest figures come amid 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. With the pathways we are on with intensive fossil fuels we are looking at 4, 5 or even 6C.”
She went on to say that the climate change by carbon pollution would risk food production, melting of the polar ice sheets, and severe weather patterns.