Carbon increasing 2% annually - Australia the worst in the world

The most recent Global Carbon Audit has found that carbon emissions increased by %2 again in 2008, keeping the world on track for worst case scenario climate change of of 6 degree rise in temperature by 2100. Emissions dropped to %2 from an average of %3 increase annually because of the Global Financial Crisis showing how the current capitalist economy ties wealth creation and carbon pollution together.Incredibly carbon emissions have increased %40 globally since 1990. Shamefully Australia is rated as having the highest per capita carbon emissions in the world. With the impending failure at Copenhagen it is obvious that the resistance our government's climate madness needs to be escalated.

Australia still highest per capita carbon emitter

Sarah Clarke reported this story on Wednesday, November 18, 2009 08:03:00

TONY EASTLEY: It's an annual global snapshot that gives world leaders a solid idea of how the planet is tracking with its carbon emissions.

And the latest audit, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, has found that emissions are continuing to rise at 2 per cent a year, and Australia still holds the lead with the highest per capita among developed nations.

There's some good news though, carbon dioxide levels are slightly lower than previous years due to the global financial crisis.

But as environment reporter Sarah Clarke explains, that good news, may be short lived.

SARAH CLARKE: It's one of the few positives out of the global financial crisis - a hope that a slowdown in the economy may translate to a reduction in the planet's emissions.

But the latest audit by the Global Carbon Project has found carbon dioxide levels from human activities are still on the increase at around 2 per cent per year or 1.3 tonnes of carbon per capita.

However, that's slightly down on previous years, but it's a trend that's unlikely to stay. Dr Michael Raupach is from the CSIRO and one of 30 scientists contributing to the audit.

MICHAEL RAUPACH: That's a little bit less than through the previous seven or eight years when they'd been increasing at over 3 per cent per year. So there has been a slow up, it's partly the beginning of the effect of the global financial crisis.

By 2011 emissions will have recovered to something like 3 per cent per year - roughly what they were before the financial crisis began.

SARAH CLARKE: Scientists blame an increasing use of coal for the continuing rise in carbon emissions, and growth from developing countries like China where exports and the production of manufactured goods are booming.

MICHAEL RAUPACH: China at the moment has a growth rate for both its economy and its emissions of the order of 10 per cent per year.

So with growth rates like that it's pretty well inevitable that there'll be a continuing increase in that fraction of fossil fuel emissions coming from developing countries.

SARAH CLARKE: But Australia didn't come out clean either - the 2008 assessment found the nation's CO2 levels are continuing to rise, and among developed nations Australia has the lead on a per capita basis.

Michael Raupach from the CSIRO again:

MICHAEL RAUPACH: In the basket of developed countries we compare obviously with the US whose emissions are almost flat at the moment, countries like Canada, with the European Union. And in almost all of those cases we exceed the emissions rates of those countries.

SARAH CLARKE: Based on this latest audit, these scientists say the planet is continuing to track close to the worst case scenario with carbon dioxide emissions estimated to have increased by 41 per cent since 1990 levels.

Professor Matthew England from the University of New South Wales warns if those levels aren't stabilised, or reduced, then the outlook for the planet looks bleak.

MATTHEW ENGLAND: We're looking toward, say at the end of this century, being at a global average warming of up to 7 degrees Celsius if this goes on for many more decades. And that level of climate change is in some sense unthinkable.

TONY EASTLEY: Professor Matthew England from the University of New South Wales ending that report from environment reporter Sarah Clarke.




Carbon is not a pollutant - it is vital for plant life to thrive.

But we have been pumping greenhouse gases - mostly CO2 - out into the atmosphere with about 50% able to be absorbed by land and sea sinks so far. These sinks are growing less efficient with more carbon staying in the atmosphere.

If emission reduction isn't implemented, the global mean temperature could easily rise by 5 to 6 degrees this century - this is the IPCC 2007 estimate. This will lead to major droughts and desertification, melting of Greenland and West Antarctic Ice Cap (both hold about 6 metres of sea level rise in total), and probably the rest of the Antarctic Ice mass; famines and mass migration of peoples.

Altogether, looking at 70 metres of sea level rise. It wouldn't happen all at once, of course - maybe 1.5 metres this century, 5 metres the next, etc. Just with a 1 metre sea level rise will see many coastal cities vulnerable.