By John Vlahakis

A recently published article in the journal Nature Climate Change highlighted a new analysis by the Global Carbon Project, that shows fossil fuel emissions increased by 5.9 percent in 2010 and by 49 percent since 1990.  Ironically 1990 was the first year of the Kyoto protocol.  On average, fossil fuel emissions have risen by 3.1 per cent each year between 2000 and 2010, three times the rate of increase during the 1990s. They are projected to continue to increase by 3.1 per cent in 2011.  Total emissions, which combine fossil fuel combustion, cement production; deforestation and other land use emissions reached 10 billion tons of carbon in 2010 for the first time.  Half of the emissions remained in the atmosphere, where CO2 concentration reached 389.6 parts per million. The remaining emissions were taken up by the ocean and land reservoirs, in approximately equal proportions.  Rebounding from the global financial crisis of 2008-09 when emissions temporarily decreased, last year’s high growth was caused by both emerging and developed economies. Rich countries continued to outsource part of their emissions to emerging economies through international trade.  Contributions to global emissions growth in 2010 were largest from China, the United States, India, the Russian Federation and the European Union. Emissions from the trade of goods and services produced in emerging economies but consumed in the West increased from 2.5 per cent of the share of rich countries in 1990 to 16 per cent in 2010.

Photo Credit:  Saul Loeb, AFP/Getty Images

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