Global Carbon Dioxide Emissions to Reach Record High in 2014

Falmouth, Mass. – The “2014 Global Carbon Budget” co-authored by Woods Hole Research Center Acting President and Senior Scientist Richard A. Houghton finds that global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, the main contributor to climate warming, are set to reach a record high of 40 billion tonnes in 2014. In the US, this translates into a 2.9% increase over last year, reversing the declining trend of the last four years.

An international team of scientists report global changes in the sources and sinks of carbon dioxide in the Carbon Budget constructed annually by the Global Carbon Project.  This year’s report comes out in advance of the United Nations Climate Summit on September 23 where world leaders will come together to advance climate action.  According to lead author Professor Corrine Le Quéré, Director of the Tyndall Center at the University of East Anglia, “Politicians meeting in New York need to think very carefully about their diminishing choices exposed by climate science.”

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Some of these choices include fossil fuel reserves, half of which may need to be left in the ground to stay below a warming of 2° C.  The report finds that future CO2 emissions cannot exceed 1,200 billion tonnes, which, if emissions stay at their current rate, will be reached in 30 years.  Dr. Houghton notes that “the global emissions of carbon dioxide are expected to grow by 2.5 per cent in 2014, while, to keep the warming below 2° C, they will need to decrease by 5 per cent per year over the next decades. We are headed in the wrong direction.”

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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.