21st Century's First Decade Saw Doubling of Greenhouse Gas Emissions: IPCC

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Common Dreams

21st Century's First Decade Saw Doubling of Greenhouse Gas Emissions: IPCC

Leaked draft of latest IPCC report obtained by Guardian sheds light on drastic gas emissions from coal-fired plant

by
Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer
Centralia coal-fired power plant, Washington State (Photo via Flickr / Kid Clutch / Creative Commons license)

Centralia coal-fired power plant, Washington State (Photo via Flickr / Kid Clutch / Creative Commons license)

Greenhouse gas emissions grew in the first decade of the 21st century at a rate almost double that of the previous 30 years, despite the 2008 economic downturn, a leaked portion of the UN's International Panel on Climate Change's latest research reveals.

"Global GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions have risen more rapidly between 2000 and 2010," says the leaked portion of the the draft report obtained by the Guardian, adding, "Current GHG emissions trends are at the high end of projected levels for the last decade."

According to the report, the drastic upswing in emissions is largely due to an increased reliance on coal-fired power plants.

As Suzanne Goldenberg at the Guardian reports, there are over 1,000 new plants under construction around the world, with most arising in China and India. As the IPCC research highlights, those plants are largely supplying power for factories making goods for the U.S. and Europe.

Countries such as Germany, Britain and France have also significantly increased coal burning.

The latest draft says emissions grew 2.2% per year between 2000 and 2010, compared to 1.3% per year over the previous three decades.

And between 2010 and 2011 emissions grew 3%.

This noted increase in emissions coincides with a recent report released by the UN's World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which said 13 of the 14 warmest years on record occurred in the 21st century.

That report said the extreme weather systems wreaking havoc across the world would have been "virtually impossible" without man-made climate change, caused by greenhouse gas emissions.

The IPCC's leaked draft comes as the third part of the the panel's extensive climate change assessment, which has been released in portions over the past year.

The scientists are in Berlin this week finalizing the research and will release a "Summary for Policymakers" of the "Working Group III contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)" in a press conference in Berlin on Sunday.

"This third part was supposed to be focused on solutions," writes Goldenberg. "Instead, the report made increasingly clear the large and growing gap in the scale of the threat and the readiness of those solutions."

What little solutions are offered in the report were criticized earlier this week by a British environmental organization, which also recently reviewed the draft. The group said many of the climate fixes suggested by the IPCC, such as bioenergy and carbon capture, are "largely untested" and "very risky" and could "exacerbate" climate change, agricultural problems, water scarcity, soil erosion and energy challenges, "rather than improving them."

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