Global Greenhouse Gas emissions ‘will double by 2020

GLOBAL greenhouse-gas emissions will almost double by 2020, a rate much faster than previously predicted, according to a paper co-written by the Federal Government’s top climate change adviser.

A draft of the unpublished paper co-written by Professor Ross Garnaut says rapid economic growth in China is fuelling the increase and calls for developing countries to commit to binding emissions reduction targets to avoid such a “bleak” outcome.

The 2030 business-as-usual forecast is 11 per cent higher than the worst-case scenario developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change.

The paper predicts the world reaching a level of emissions 20 years earlier than that predicted by the groundbreaking Stern Review by
British economist Nicholas Stern.

It says the global effort to cut greenhouse gases will need to be much larger to avoid the projected scenario.

“Larger and earlier cuts in developed country emissions will be required than previously thought, and major deviations from baselines will be required in developing countries by 2020,” the paper says.

“It is hard to see how the required cuts could be achieved without all major developing, as well as developed, countries adopting economy-wide
policies to reduce emissions.”

Prof Garnaut, an economist who heads the Government’s Garnaut Review, is preparing the research with three other Australian academics for the
Oxford Review of Economic Policy.

The Garnaut Review’s interim report, released in February, described a dire outlook for global warming and recommended developed nations pursue
emissions cuts of 70-90 per cent by 2050.

In the “platinum age” – a term coined by Prof Garnaut for the current period of exceptionally fast economic growth led by China and India – fossil-fuel emissions are spiralling.

“CO2 emissions from fossil-fuel burning increased by only one per cent a year on average in the 1990s, but grew by three per cent a year from 2000 to 2005,” the draft paper says.

“Since 2000, non-OECD emissions have been growing almost six times as fast as OECD emissions, accounting for 85 per cent of the growth in
emissions.”

Under platinum age projections, the academics say China will be responsible for 37 per cent of global emissions by 2030.

The projections suggest emissions will grow by 2.5 per cent a year in the 2005-2030 period to a level of 83 billion tonnes, almost double their current level.

The authors say in light of this scenario, developed countries would have to make emissions cuts by 2020 at or above the top end of the range being discussed in global talks.

Major developing countries would also have to commit themselves to demanding and binding targets instead of undertaking voluntary efforts, a key sticking point in post-Kyoto talks.

“Without all major emitters binding themselves to economy-wide targets or policies, given rapid emissions growth, the prospects for the global climate change mitigation effort are bleak.”

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