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Alarming acceleration in CO2 emissions worldwide

Stanford, CA -- Between 2000 and 2004, worldwide CO2 emissions increased at a rate that is over three times the rate during the 1990sthe rate increased from 1.1 % per year during the 1990s to 3.1% per year in the early 2000s. The research, published in the early on-line edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences* May 21-25, also found that the accelerating growth rate is largely due to the increasing energy intensity of economic activity (the energy required to produce a unit of gross domestic product) and the carbon intensity of the energy system (the amount of carbon per unit of energy), coupled with increases in population and in per-capita gross domestic product. No region is decarbonising its energy supply, states the study.

The research showed that the increases in energy and carbon intensity constitute a reversal of a long-term trend toward greater energy efficiency and reduced carbon intensities. Despite the scientific consensus that carbon emissions are affecting the worlds climate, we are not seeing evidence of progress in managing those emissions in either the developed or developing countries. In many parts of the world, we are going backwards, remarked co-author of the study Chris Field, director of the Carnegie Institutions Department of Global Ecology.

The research also shows that the actual global emissions since 2000 grew faster than in the highest of the scenarios developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The trends relating energy to economic growth are definitely headed in the wrong direction, Field commented.

The acceleration of carbon emissions is greatest in the exploding economies of developing regions, particularly China, where the increases mainly reflect increasing per capita gross domestic product. The study** divided the world into the USA, the European Union, Japan, the nations of the former Soviet Union, China, India, and three regions covering the rest of
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Contact: Chris Field
cfield@globalecology.stanford.edu
650-462-1047 x201
Carnegie Institution
21-May-2007


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