Graph of the Day: Largest Jump ever in Carbon Emissions

June 2, 2011

After a brief hiatus due to world-wide recession, carbon emissions jumped dramatically, putting us as the high end of IPCC emissions scenarios.

After a dip in 2009 caused by the global financial crisis, emissions are estimated to have climbed to a record 30.6 Gigatonnes (Gt), a 5% jump from the previous record year in 2008, when levels reached 29.3 Gt.

In addition, the IEA has estimated that 80% of projected emissions from the power sector in 2020 are already locked in, as they will come from power plants that are currently in place or under construction today.

“This significant increase in CO2 emissions and the locking in of future emissions due to infrastructure investments represent a serious setback to our hopes of limiting the global rise in temperature to no more than 2ºC,” said Dr Fatih Birol, Chief Economist at the IEA who oversees the annual World Energy Outlook, the Agency’s flagship publication.

Ok. No sense in hand wringing. We have work to do.

21 Responses to “Graph of the Day: Largest Jump ever in Carbon Emissions”

  1. Alteredstory Says:

    I have to say, I think that anyone still holding onto the notion, for the last ten years, that we can keep the temperature increase below two degrees C is being desperately optimistic. Given what’s already in the atmosphere, and what appears to be the solid beginnings of feedbacks around the globe, I think even if we cut emissions to zero right now around the globe, it’d still hit 4 degrees by the end of the century.

    To be clear, I’m not advocating despair, and it can still get much, much worse, but I think unrealistic optimism is as likely as no to come back and bite us in the ass.

    Done ranting for now.

  2. BlueRock Says:

    I’ve come to the conclusion that self-aware denial is useful and even necessary with all of this. Discussing what is likely to happen has little benefit – it merely saps motivation and leads to nihilism.

    I’ve painted a mental image of a future utopia with a massively interconnected wind and solar power grid for the entire planet. No more energy poverty, no radioactive waste, no more need to drill in oceans and blow the tops off mountain, no need to cut down forests. I think it’s worth shooting for.

  3. otter17 Says:

    The link between economic recovery and CO2 emissions must be broken.

    @ Alteredstory
    “I think even if we cut emissions to zero right now around the globe, it’d still hit 4 degrees by the end of the century.”

    Yeah, this Skeptical Science article about the Pliocene comes to mind. In the second paragraph, they mention global temperatures to be about 3-4 degrees Celsius temp rise over the pre-industrial era.

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/What-was-it-like-the-last-time-CO2-levels-were-this-high.html

    Regardless, I see it as setting a lofty goal and likely achieving more than if we had set our sights at a realistic target. The people that want to impede solutions will attempt to move any goalpost that is presented to them, so I see it as putting that goalpost out there a bit. In any case, I prefer the 350ppm or less goal versus a desired temp rise.

  4. neilrieck Says:

    This graph is more disturbing than most viewers know. Last year I did some research in the area of published “emission scenarios” which involve averaging the output of 40 climate models projected 100 years into the future. (each climate model performs four test runs; each test run begins by assuming humanity makes one of four choices: A1,A2,B1,B2)

    http://www3.sympatico.ca/n.rieck/docs/climate_modelling_introduction.html#emission-scenarios

    Any scenario beginning with the letter “A” means a choice of “economic activity” was preferred over “environmental health”. So this CO2 graph shows that a small fraction of humanity will be safely counting money while hiding underground at high altitudes (and probably starving).

  5. kap55 Says:

    Can you provide a link to the IEA emissions data from which you drew the graph? I’ve been to the IEA website and their 2010 report only gives data through 2008 …


  6. […] written by the likes of David Suzuki or Paul R. Ehrlich, that is): with human-caused CO2 emissions apparently unstoppable, fish the world over will experience irregular heartbeats, and hearing difficulties causing a […]

  7. NikFromNYC Says:

    This shows even more how badly Hansen’s 1988 prophecy was, the one that lead to the formation of the IPCC in the first place:

    At this point you guys sound as delusional as Charles Manson:

      • NikFromNYC Says:

        You use Hansen’s GISS to support Hansen’s predictions, and link to a far leftist PR firm owned block, a PR firm (owner of RealClimate) that was behind the fraudulent vaccine-causes-autism scare and a far leftist think tank (owner of ThinkProgress).

        I used an actual NASA satellite in my presentation above, not Hansen’s own work.

        “as everyone knows, I’m a huge Manson fan.”

        Global Warming alarmism (as opposed to balanced AGW discussion) of which you show no sign of interest in helping to damp down has created the likes of Manson. There really is a connection between alarmism and psychotic eco-terrorism:

        Yet you insist on labeling skeptics as “deniers”, a reference to neo-nazi Holocaust deniers, but the only neo-nazis I can find in the debate are all on your side of it.

        Oh, and we get called moon landing deniers and flat earthers too by Gore and Pachauri both. That inspired me to make this poster:

        When you guys stop referring to skeptics like me as neo-nazis then and only then can you complain about being compared to Manson, eco-terrorists and real terrorists too.

        • greenman3610 Says:

          Well, Jim Hansen has a stellar record as one of the most respected, and consistently correct, scientists on the planet. I’m happy to associate myself with him.
          Obviously you have not seen my video on Harrison Schmidt, or you would
          have been rightfully embarrassed by holding him up as some kind of example.

          Schmidt is of course, associated with the Heartland Institute, a group who thinks those crazy doctors are making waaayyyy too much fuss about this tobacco nonsense. No denial there, right?
          As far as the videos, my take would be that some ignorant and tasteless people made a terribly tasteless TV ad, in which children were blown up.
          Meanwhile, climate deniers like Dick Cheney, the Halliburton crew, and their allies take us into wars for fossil fuel — and actually DO blow people up.
          That’s more than bad taste, in my opinion.
          You are associating yourself with and shilling for some of the worst criminals that this planet has ever produced, and you show no familiarity whatever with the scientific literature on AGW – merely a willingness to parrot standard internet talking points.
          That’s why I feel completely justified in calling you what you are.
          But thanks for playing.

          • NikFromNYC Says:

            “climate deniers like Dick Cheney, the Halliburton crew, and their allies take us into wars for fossil fuel — and actually DO blow people up.”

            Unlike your Nobel Peace Prize winner with his dirty hands in Libya, Syria, and now Yemen too? Cling to Nobel Peace Prize winner and tobacco farmer and six fireplace palace owner Al Gore then, happy sailor.

            The point of the Astronaut poster wasn’t that Harrison (one of five I featured) was perfect, but that Gore and Co. are fools for calling skeptics “deniers”, which is a cultural reference to neo-Nazi Holocaust deniers, and are fools for claiming skeptics are flat earth conspiracy theorists.

            I don’t use talking points. I accidentally did that a three years ago before I added skepticism towards skeptics to my arsenal. Now I just offer basic 101 material like tide gauges and thermometer records. Good luck finding those on skeptics sites as “talking points.” Most skeptics are so lost on statistical debate that they can’t see simple things clearly, like I can, a hands on carbon chemist (+organometallic +genetics +nanotech) with a Ph.D. in chemistry (Columbia/Harvard with lots of time in a bunny suit at MIT up the street from Harvard).

            Oceans: http://oi52.tinypic.com/x3e0es.jpg
            Thermometers: http://oi52.tinypic.com/2agnous.jpg

            Hey, dude, do a

        • BlueRock Says:

          > …you insist on labeling skeptics as “deniers”, a reference to neo-nazi Holocaust deniers…

          The only people who try to make that connection are you deniers in order to feed your victim complex. And you obviously need to prefix denier with ‘Holocaust’ to make it, otherwise it would simply be what it is – a reference to someone who is in denial, as per Sigmund Freud.

          > …the only neo-nazis I can find in the debate are all on your side of it.

          And that’s why you deniers also earn labels such as ‘wingnut’ and ‘crank’.

          On one side is close to 100% of the planet’s climate scientists along with every national science academy of every industrialised country on the planet. Not to mention a mountain of science that is totally persuasive.

          On the other is a a literal handful of ‘contrarian’ climate scientists, usually on the payroll of Big Fossil. Then there are a bunch of blogs, authored by weathermen, retired mining executives and a mountain of… ummm… ‘original thinkers’ who have mistaken having an opinion for having a clue.

          It’s like the Harlem Globe Trotters versus my 89-year old grandmother.

          A senior psychology lecturer recently described the behaviour of deniers in relation to sending death threats to climate scientists as indicative of a “closed room” mentality where people have lost all sense of what is normal. That perfectly describes the general behaviour of you deniers. You simply have no reality-based anchor point. Your ‘reality’ is whatever the denier echo chamber creates for you on any given day.


  8. […] appear to be surging past even our not-so-happy scenarios into the void beyond the worst case.  Climate Crocks has the chart (click to […]

  9. NikFromNYC Says:

    …climate crock on single-site century old tide gauge records, worldwide. Explain why only a miniscule minority of them show any trend change at all in recent decades.

  10. NikFromNYC Says:

    On Windows 7 on Firefox, your site makes threads get thinner with each new Reply and the text entry box maxes out and wont scroll. It’s not a bad effect, since eventually posts start to become formatted like poetry.

    Good luck to you. I like your spirit. Thanks for not moderating my points. I’ll mull over the response I got. I think I need to be more creative rather than confrontational.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      will keep you in mind if I need an equation balanced, or someone in a bunny suit.
      post anytime.


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