Global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels rise again in 2013

Falmouth, Mass. – Global carbon emissions are on track to hit a record 36 billion metric tons in 2013 according to the Global Carbon Project, an international group of scientists who have tracked yearly global carbon budgets since 2001. Co-authored by Dr. Richard Houghton, Senior Scientist at the Woods Hole Research Center, The Global Carbon Budget 2013 projects a 2.1 per cent rise from 2012 levels and a whopping 61% rise from 1990, the baseline year for the Kyoto Protocol.

“Carbon dioxide is the main driver of climatic disruption, and changes in the global carbon budget can either accelerate or retard climatic disruption,” says Dr. Houghton.

Led by Professor Corrine Le Quéré of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia, the budget’s release coincided with the United Nations climate talks in Warsaw. According to Professor Le Quéré, “Governments meeting in Warsaw this week need to agree on how to reverse this trend. Emissions must fall substantially and rapidly if we are to limit global climate change to below two degrees.”

This year, the Global Carbon Project launched a new web-based tool to help understand global carbon budgets. The Carbon Atlas is an online platform showing carbon emissions by country, over time, and by source. The atlas highlights the greatest offenders through the use of two comparisons: human-induced versus naturally-occurring emissions, and nation to nation results.

The Global Carbon Project draws data from 49 research institutions across the globe on sources and sinks for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, land and oceans. The goal is to detail the global carbon cycle and to understand the human and natural components and the interactions between them.

According to Dr. Houghton, “The annual tracking is important because it provides the first indication of changes in the global carbon cycle, in particular this year’s emissions from human activity, and whether the uptake of carbon by land and oceans is continuing.”

Full citation and link for the article: C. Le Quéré, Peters, G. P., Andres, R. J., Andrew, R. M., Boden, T., Ciais, P., Friedlingstein, P., Houghton, R. A., Marland, G., Moriarty, R., Sitch, S., Tans, P., Arneth, A., Arvanitis, A., Bakker, D. C. E., Bopp, L., Canadell, J. G., Chini, L. P., Doney, S. C., Harper, A., Harris, I., House, J. I., Jain, A. K., Jones, S. D., Kato, E., Keeling, R. F., Klein Goldewijk, K., Körtzinger, A., Koven, C., Lefèvre, N., Omar, A., Ono, T., Park, G.-H., Pfeil, B., Poulter, B., Raupach, M. R., Regnier, P., Rödenbeck, C., Saito, S., Schwinger, J., Segschneider, J., Stocker, B. D., Tilbrook, B., van Heuven, S., Viovy, N., Wanninkhof, R., Wiltshire, A., Zaehle, S., and Yue, C. 2013. Global Carbon Budget 2013. Earth System Science Data Discussions 6:689-760. doi: 10.5194/essdd-6-689-2013

WHRC is an independent research institute where scientists investigate the causes and effects of climate change to identify and implement opportunities for conservation, restoration and economic development around the globe.