Monday, May 30, 2011

Climate change: Emissions rise again

Bad news on the climate change front: greenhouse gas emissions have reached their highest level ever, spiking 5.5% in the past year:

Greenhouse gas emissions increased by a record amount last year, to the highest carbon output in history, putting hopes of holding global warming to safe levels all but out of reach, according to unpublished estimates from the International Energy Agency.


Last year, a record 30.6 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide poured into the atmosphere, mainly from burning fossil fuel – a rise of 1.6Gt on 2009, according to estimates from the IEA regarded as the gold standard for emissions data.

This means that the goal of restricting climate change to two degrees is becoming unachievable, and dangerous levels of climate change - with all the human suffering that entails - unavoidable. And all because governments have dragged their feet, delayed, engaged in special pleading for the oil and coal industries, and generally impeded a global deal to limit emissions. That delay may have been profitable for polluters - but it will be deadly to the rest of us. The current emissions track puts us in line for four degrees of warming, which means desertification in temperate zones, the death of the Amazon, melting icecaps, and 5m of sea-level rise.

The primary duty of a government is to protect its citizens. our governments have failed to do this. Instead, their pissing about has endangered us, and our children, and our grandchildren. And we should hold them accountable for it.