Gallery: Global CO2 Emissions Down 1.3 Percent in 2009!


For the first time in this decade, global CO2 emissions actually fell. The 1.3 percent decline — down to a total of 31.3 billion tonnes worldwide — is due in part to a $40 billion rise in investments in green power. The report on the decline was released by the Muenster-based institute IWR which noted that though the decline is great news, it could have been — and will have to be — even better in order to start to address the global climate crisis.

The director of IWR, Norbert Allnoch, noted that carbon dioxide levels could have been even lower had the increasing CO2 output in Asia and the Middle East not overshadowed the gains made by Europe, Russia, Japan and the United States. “The energy-induced CO2 output in China in 2009 due to its economic growth has grown to a level now that is as high as that of the U.S. and Russia combined,” he told Reuters.

The report from IWR noted that the increasing dependence on green power and the global energy crisis led to lower prices for those sustainable alternatives to fossil fuel. Though the decline was noted, the report also detailed that in order to curb our dependence on fossil fuel and start to reverse global climate change we’d need to quadruple our global annual spending on renewables to a total of $644.2 billion.

Via Reuters


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  1. Joshua Nelson September 1, 2010 at 10:55 am

    Sorry for the bold type on the previous comment!

  2. steadystater September 1, 2010 at 10:54 am


    Complete combustion of 1 short ton of coal will generate about 2.86 short tons of carbon dioxide. (source) So your figure of 7.1 billion short tons of coal would amount to 20.31 billion short tons of CO2. Though, I don’t imagine your figure is completely correct.

    Coal isn’t the only source of emissions from power generation – oil and natural gas plants emit as well. Plus there are some emissions that need to be attributed to the extraction and refining of these fuels in oder to be used in power plants.

    In fact, when you look at “global emissions” coal is a big part, but not the only place of carbon emissions. Coal only makes up about 36% of our global emissions. Oil and gas make up just slightly more, the rest is attributed to cement production, followed by other industrial gas processes and various minor emitters.

    In regards to this article, global emissions would also take into account internal combustion engines – cars, trucks, trains, plans, et cetera – as well as other sources like those listed above. This goes back to my argument – the economic slowdown meant less driving, less air travel, less consumption and production. Each of these things reduces the amount of global emissions in a myriad of ways.

    Though, I have recently read that there was no growth or decline in emissions in 2009.


  3. ruben guevara August 31, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    how can the yearly emitions of co2 be 31.3 billion tonnes when the yearly production of coal is only 7.1 billion short tonnes?

  4. steadystater August 17, 2010 at 11:35 am

    While the investment in green energy has been significant in regards to historical levels, the amount we can attribute to actually reducing emissions in 2009 is probably more like ZERO. Try economic recession. That’s the real reason we fell – less economic output, less production and consumption.

    You cannot decouple CO2 emissions from production and consumption (which is why we need an alternative to growth if we truly want to avoid runaway climate change). The investment in green tech and renewable energy is still relatively new and the reduction that would come from the actual up-and-running green energy.

    In order to achieve that amount of reduction we would need far more than 1.3 percent of renewable power generation, we would need about double that – working and actually doing so in peak hours, but also doing enough to shut down the dirty coal plants. This is unlikely with our current size of renewable energy generation, which is modest and spread out.

    Now, I am very happy to see the amount of investment going into this industry and think it is crucial to our transition to a sustainable society. However, we also need a sustainable economy that recognizes ecological limits, instead of the destructive economic model that put us in this place to begin with!

    Joshua Nelson

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