In a relief to the industrialised nations, a Dutch environment report has blamed high growth in China and India for the rise in carbon emissions, saying they have "completely nullified" the reductions achieved by rich nations.
The global CO2 emissions have remained constant in 2009 despite the economic crisis slowing down the growth trajectory of many countries, Netherlands Environment Assessment Agency (PBL) said in a report yesterday.
The agency, which had identified that China's carbon emissions in 2006 had overshot that of the US, making it the world's largest polluter, attributed the 2009 trend to an offset effect by China and India. "... strong increases in CO2 emissions from fast-growing developing countries, such as China and India, have completely nullified CO2 emission reductions in the industrialised world," the report said.
The figures will come as a relief to the world's rich countries, which, apart from the US, are legally committed to reducing emissions by a collective 5.2 per cent on 1990 figures by 2012, the report said.
This is for the first time since 1992 that the emissions of the main greenhouse gas have remained constant. The PBL's report "No growth in total global CO2 emissions in 2009" is based on calculations on recent data from sources including data on energy use from oil company British Petroleum (BP), on cement production from the US Geological Survey (USGS), and on the latest version of the Emission Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR).
The calculations show that emissions from fossil-fuel combustion in the industrial countries have decreased by seven per cent. But in China and India, they actually increased by nine and six per cent respectively. The report trashes earlier projections by the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicting an emission decrease for 2009 of 2.6 per cent – the largest in 40 years.
While the industrialised nations seem to be on course to achieve the Kyoto Protocol targets -- aided in part by the meltdown -- the fast growing economies have been unable to rein in emissions. However, "a large part of production capacity that has been suspended (due to the economic crisis), could be re-employed as soon as the economy improves," it says.
Both China and India had pledged ambitious target cuts ahead of last year's Copenhagen climate change summit. While Beijing promised to curb its emission intensity by 40 to 45 per cent by 2020, India announced a target reduction of 20-25 per cent by 2020 on the 2005 levels.
The report also pointed out that although there have been strong increases in emissions in countries such as China and India, their average CO2 emissions per inhabitant, in 2009, were still below those in industrial countries.