Monday, May 30, 2011

Highest greenhouse gas emissions in history push global warming towards 'dangerous' levels - 30th May 2011

Global warming is fast heading towards 'dangerous' levels owing to the emission of a record amount of greenhouse gases last year, according to new figures.

Estimates from the International Energy Agency show that a whopping 30.6 gigatons of carbon dioxide was pumped into the atmosphere last year - a worrying rise of 1.6Gt on 2009.

The IEA has warned that annual emissions should be no higher than 32Gt by 2020 if the world is to avoid the most damaging effects of global warming.

At the current rate of carbon dioxide production, the threshold of 'dangerous climate change' - defined as a global temperature rise of 2C - looks almost impossible to be avoided.

'It is becoming extremely challenging to remain below 2 degrees. The prospect is getting bleaker,' said Fatih Birol, chief economist of the IEA.

It had been hoped that the global recession would have a positive effect on emissions - but the impact so far is negligible.

If we continue the way we're going, there is a 50 per cent chance that the global average temperature will rise by more than 4C by 2100, according to Professor Lord Stern of the London School of Economics, the author of the Stern Report into the economics of climate change in 2006.

'Such warming would disrupt the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people across the planet, leading to widespread mass migration and conflict,' Stern told the Guardian. Read More