Alarming UN Report: Industrialized World Falling Short of Climate Goals

A new report released by the United Nations shows that climate-damaging CO2 emissions in the industrialized world have rebounded in the 21st century after dropping in the 1990s.

After a sharp dip following the collapse of the Soviet Union, global greenhouse gas emissions in industrialized countries began rising again between 2000 and 2006, according to a disappointing new report released on Monday by the United Nations.

The dissolution of the Soviet Union brought emissions tumbling down in the nineties, but they've crept back up since 2000.
REUTERS

The dissolution of the Soviet Union brought emissions tumbling down in the nineties, but they've crept back up since 2000.

Although CO2 levels are still down almost 4.7 percent compared with the baseline year of 1999, they rose 2.3 percent in the first seven years of the new century, from 17.6 billion tons in 2000 to 18 billion tons in 2006.

The report, which gathered information about 40 industrialized economies, showed an especially sharp rise in emissions from former Soviet bloc countries, whose emissions shot up 7.4 percent since 2000. The spike was not unexpected given the rapid recovery many post-Soviet economies have made after floundering in the 1990s.

Significantly, the report includes no information about economies in the developing world. Under the Kyoto Protocol, non-industrialized countries are under no obligation to either reduce emissions or even gather data on them.

Although the new numbers put the industrialized world nearly on track to meet Kyoto's emissions-reduction target of 5 percent relative to 1990 levels, the recent trend line is still discouraging. In the smaller group of industrialized countries that have signed onto the Kyoto Protocol, emissions are down 17 percent since 1990, but still rose slightly in the period following 2000.

Germany's performance was relatively encouraging, posting a 18.5 percent reduction in CO2 emissions since 1990. When data from the year 2007 is added, the German reduction balloons to 20.4 percent, close to its Kyoto target of a 21 percent reduction by 2008.

The panel that prepared the report said that emissions should peak in industrialized countries by 2015, after which they will need to fall if the world is to avoid the catastrophic effects of global warming.

As for the United States, the Bush administration doesn't forecast that US emissions will peak until 2025, though the incoming Obama administration has said it will take a much more aggressive posture regarding climate change, setting a goal of slashing emissions by 80 percent of 1990 levels by the year 2050. Obama has also said he would set aside $150 billion (€118.6 billion) over the next 10 years to invest in a clean energy economy.

The report comes just two weeks before a planned UN Climate Change Conference in Poznan, Poland, itself a warm up for negotiations for a Kyoto successor set to take place in Copenhagen next year. The successor agreement is set to go into effect in 2012.

cpg -- with wire reports

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