The Global Carbon Project is a group of scientists who do an excellent job in producing an annual analysis and report on the state of the global carbon budget. Their analysis for 2013 has just been released and the paper, slides and data can be found at their website:
A ppt pdf of the presentation can also be uploaded here.
You will find a summary of new findings, a ppt with an extended graphic analysis, and links to the data and paper for download.
Global Carbon Cycle 2013 (powerpoint, 10 MB) or pdf (4 MB)
The analysis makes for sombre reading (my personal comments in italics):
CO2 emissions from fossil fuels and cement
Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuel burning and cement production increased by 2.1% in 2012, with a total of 9.7±0.5 GtC emitted to the atmosphere. These emissions were the highest in human history and 58% higher than in 1990 (the Kyoto Protocol reference year). In 2012, coal burning was responsible for 43% of the total emissions, oil 33%, gas 18%, cement 5.3%, and gas flaring 0.6%. Emissions are projected to increase by 2.1% in 2013, to a record high of 9.9±0.5 GtC (36 billion tonnes of CO2), 61% above emissions in 1990.
These numbers show just how spectacularly unsuccessful our global attempts have been to get to grips with CO2 emissions. From the graphs in the report there is little evidence of a turning point soon.
Regional fossil fuel emissions
In 2012, global CO2 emissions were dominated by emissions from China (27%), the USA (14%), the EU (28 member states; 10%) and India (6%). Growth rates of these countries from 2011 to 2012 were 5.9% for China, −3.7% for the USA, −1.3% for the EU28, and 7.7% for India. The per-capita CO2 emissions in 2012 were 1.4 tC person-1 yr-1 for the globe, and 4.4, 1.9, 1.9 and 0.5 tonnes of C person-1 yr-1 for the USA, the EU, China, and India, respectively.
The countries contributing most to the 2012 change in emissions were China (71% increase), USA (26% decrease), India (21% increase), and Japan (11% increase).
In 1990, 62% of global emissions were emitted in Annex B countries (developed countries), 34% in non-Annex B (developing countries), and 4% in bunker fuels used for international shipping and aviation. In 2012, 37% of emissions were emitted in Annex B countries, and 57% in non-Annex B countries.
This shows how much the world has changed since 1990, and how out-of-date the Kyoto framework has become. China is now at parity in per capita carbon emissions with the EU. There is still strong argument for trying to reduce emissions in the West, but even the most aggressive of emissions reductions schemes could not compensate for the surge of emissions from Asia. Surely the most immediate global priority is to shift Asia's energy economy away from coal (and ideally other fossil fuels) while meeting its development aspirations? Everything else seems small compared to this challenge
Interesting patterns in the USA and Japan. A 26% decrease in emissions from the US, probably linked to the expansion of shale gas. And an 11% increase from Japan, as it has shifted towards coal following the shutdown of most nuclear power plants following Fukushima. Interesting grist to the mill for arguments around whether nuclear and shale gas should been seen as viable strategies for reducing CO2 emissions. With shale gas the key climate question is this whether this just feeds our fossil fuel addiction in the long run or is a transition strategy to wean us off coal?
Consumption-based fossil fuel emissions
In 2011 (the latest year with consumption data), the biggest emitters from a consumption-based perspective were China (22% of the global total), USA (17%), EU (14%), and India (5%).
Cumulative CO2 emissions
The cumulative carbon emissions are the sum of the total CO2 emitted during a given period of time. Total cumulative emissions since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, 1750 to 2012, were 385±20 GtC from fossil fuels and cement, and 205±70 from land use change. Using 1870 as the reference year (as in IPCC AR5 2013), cumulative emissions up to 2013 are 390±20 GtC from fossil fuels and cement, and 160±55 GtC from land use change, for a total of 550±60 GtC.
Emissions from land use change
CO2 emissions from deforestation and other land use change were 0.9±0.5 GtC on average during 2003-2012, accounting for about 8% of all emissions from human activity (fossil fuel, cement, land use change). The data suggest an overall decrease trend in land use change emissions particularly since 2000. Emissions were 1.4±0.5 GtC yr-1 during the decade of 1990s.
The land use change emissions are dominated by tropical deforestation, and the decline in these emissions by Brazil's relative success in reducing Amazonian deforestation. Overall, tropical deforestation becomes less and less part of the climate problem, contributing only 8% of total emissions. This is mainly because the fossil fuel part of the problem continues to surge.
Current trajectories of fossil fuel emissions are tracking some of the most carbon intensive emission scenarios used in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The current trajectory is tracking the Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5 (of the latest family of IPCC scenarios) that takes the planet's average temperature to about 3.2°C to 5.4°C above pre-industrial times by 2100.
That is the most startling line of all (if not surprising)
CO2 removal by natural sinks
Of the total emissions from human activities during the period 2003-2012, about 45% accumulated in the atmosphere, 27% in the ocean and 27% on land. During this period, the size of the natural sinks has grown in response to the increasing emissions, although year-to-year variability of that growth is large.
The annual growth rate of atmospheric CO2 was 5.2±0.2 GtC in 2012, corresponding to an increase of 2.43±0.09 parts per million in the atmospheric concentration. This is significantly above the 2003-2012 average of 4.3±0.1 GtC yr-1, thought the interannual variability in atmospheric growth rate is large. The global atmospheric CO2concentration reached 392.52±0.10 ppm on average over 2012.
Yadvinder Malhi is an ecosytem ecologist and Professor of Ecosystem Science at Oxford University