Global emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil-fuel burning jumped dramatically over the past year, making it unlikely that global warming can be limited to 2 degrees by 2020, which was an international goal set by the Copenhagen Accord in 2009. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has recorded a CO2 jump by 2.67 parts per million since 2011 which is the second highest greenhouse emissions rise since 1959, when the agency started measuring carbon levels.

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The increase in carbon emissions is caused by the increasing use of fossil fuels, in China and developing countries in particular. Since 1998, the year of record-setting emission increase, global average carbon rise was just under 2 parts per million between 2000 and 2010. Global temperatures have risen 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit since 1800s. A voluntary limit was agreed upon in 2009, setting a goal of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit temperature rise compared to pre-industrial measurements.

“The prospects of keeping climate change below that (2-degree goal) are fading away,” Pieter Tans, senior scientist at the Earth System Research Laboratory of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told the Associated Press.

Scientists are warning that carbon emissions are rising much faster than expected. Projected figures used in the studies conducted at Pennsylvania State University have already been exceeded, according to climate scientist Michael Mann.


Lead image by Tomas Castelazo