The Earth may warm by 6 °C, a new analysis warns

2009 - 11 - 18
The Earth may warm by 6 °C, a new analysis warns

The average temperature on the planet Earth could rise by up to 6 °C in the future if humanity does not immediately reduce its CO2 emissions, a new analysis says. Researchers at the Global Carbon Project network found that our emissions increased by 29 percent between 2000 and 2008.

While developing countries are exclusively responsible for the increase in emissions, a quarter of this increase is due to the production of goods consumed in developed industrial nations. This means that wealthy nations reduced their own CO2 production, but have also transferred it to developing countries.

A study published in the journal Nature Geoscience comes at a time when politicians cannot agree on a joint position one month before the UN climate summit.

According to Professor Corrine Le Quer, who led the team of scientists, the new findings should move politicians to action. “We know how long it will take to change the power infrastructure, so I think next month’s conference in Copenhagen is our last chance to smoothly and in an organised way stabilise the warming to 2 °C,” Le Quer told the BBC.

“If the summit conclusions are not strong enough, or if states fail to honour their commitments, it will not be 2.5 °C or 3 °C but 5–6 °C. This is the path we are currently on,” warns the professor, who teaches at the University of East Anglia, who is the lead author of the newly published study.

According to experts, the ability of plants and oceans to absorb CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels is diminishing. The temperature rise could occur at the end of this and early next century.

The Global Carbon Project (GCP) is a global network of scientists and academic institutions. They evaluate all the available sources of data from atmospheric monitoring to annual business reports, from which they produce their detailed overview of carbon dioxide emissions and their growing or decreasing trends.

According to their findings, the world’s emissions before 2002 grew by about one percent per year. In recent years, however, their growth has accelerated to three percent per year, the main cause of which is China’s economic rise. The GCP says emissions will fall by 3 percent this year; nevertheless, they will start rising again with the end of the economic recession.

One of the most alarming findings of the GCP study is the difference between the direct production of a nation’s CO2 and emissions generated in connection with the production of goods and services consumed by that nation.

For example, in Great Britain, according to the analysis, while CO2 emissions fell by 5 percent between 1992 and 2004, emissions related to goods consumed in the country increased by as much as 12 percent over the same period.

“Developed European countries exported their own emissions to developing countries. It turns out that the manufacturing of goods on the other side of the world and importing them over long distances only aggravates the already bad situation. Its solution must involve the deployment of modern, low-emission or emission-free technologies and then local production and consumption. Otherwise, we have no chance to stop or slow climate changes to a manageable level,” warned Director Dalibor Dostal of the European Wildlife conservation organization.

On average, every human being consumes goods and services associated with 1.3 tons of CO2 per year; in 2000, it was only 1.1 tons. According to the GCP analysis, to keep the global warming at two degrees Celsius, the emissions per capita would have to be reduced by 0.3 tonnes per capita by 2050.

Photo: Pixabay

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