A study at the University of Exeter has predicted that 2010’s carbon dioxide emissions may hit record levels, chiefly thanks to the recovery of the global economy.
Earlier in the year, it was reported that emissions fell 1.3 percent between 2008 to 2009, but it was cautioned at the time that this was likely due to economic slowdown, rather than any real commitment to cutting CO2 output from governments. That seems to very much be the case, according to a paper published in Nature Geoscience.
The lead author of the paper, Pierre Friedlingstein, wrote that, “The 2009 drop in CO2 emissions is less than half that anticipated a year ago. This is because the drop in world Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was less than anticipated and the carbon intensity of world GDP, which is the amount of CO2 released per unit of GDP, improved by only 0.7 percent in 2009 — well below its long-term average of 1.7 percent per year.”
The study goes on to predict that if the economic recovery continues as expected, fossil fuel emissions will rise by more than three percent in 2010. That approaches the growth rates seen in the earlier part of the decade, and mirrors the recoveries from dips seen between 1997 and 1999 and between 1991 and 1992.
However, there was one bright spot in the otherwise-gloomy research. CO2 emissions from tropical deforestation have decreased over the past year, and regrowth of forest in temperate latitudes has even created a small net sink of CO2 outside of the tropics. “We could be seeing the first signs of net CO2 sequestration in the forest sector,” said co-author Corinne Le Quéré.
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