Global emissions of planet-warming carbon dioxide are on track to hit a record in 2010, a leading annual study said today, driven largely by booming economies in China and India and their reliance on coal. The Global Carbon Project, a consortium of international research bodies, also said annual emissions dipped 1.3 percent in 2009 from 2008 because of the global financial crisis. But the fall was less than half the decrease estimated a year ago.
"The real surprise was that we were expecting a bigger dip due to the financial crisis in terms of fossil fuel emissions," said Pep Canadell, executive director of the Global Carbon Project and one of the co-authors of the study published in the latest issue of the journal Nature Geoscience.
The findings come a week before the start of U.N. climate talks in Mexico aimed at trying to find a way for nations to agree on a tougher pact to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
But Canadell also said new data and reduced loss of tropical rainforests showed that emissions from deforestation had declined and now comprised about 10 percent of mankind's greenhouse gas pollution. Previous studies have said 12 to 17 percent.
Scientists say rising levels of CO2 from burning fossil fuels and deforestation is heating up the planet.
Canadell said 2009's drop would prove to be a blip.
Emissions from fossil fuels were projected to increase by more than 3 percent in 2010 if economic growth stayed on track, he told Reuters. This would mark a return to the high growth rates of 2000-2008.
"The implication of this kind of growth rate is that you're quickly moving into well beyond the 2 degrees Celsius warming target," he said, referring to a level beyond which scientists say the world risks "dangerous" climate change.