Global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) rose by 3% last year to a new record of 34 billion tonnes, according to the annual report Trends in global CO2 emissions by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) and the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL).
In the EU CO2 emissions dropped by 3% to 7.5 tonnes per capita. Emissions in the US and Japan fell 2%. OECD countries now account for one-third of global CO2 emissions – the same share as that of China and India combined.
China's emissions continued to grow rapidly, increasing by 9%. Chinese per capita emissions, at 7.2 tonnes, are now just below the EU level.
The top global emitters in 2011 were China (29%), the United States (16%), the EU (11%), India (6%), the Russian Federation (5%) and Japan (4%).
Growth in renewable energy is accelerating. It took solar and wind energy and biofuels 12 years from 1992 to double their share of global energy production from 0.5% to 1%, but only six more years to double it again to 2.1% by 2011. This represents about 800 million tonnes of CO2 emissions avoided, or the equivalent of Germany's total CO2 emissions in 2011.
Scientific literature suggests that it will be possible to limit the rise in average global temperature to 2°C above pre-industrial levels – the target adopted in the UN climate negotiations – only if cumulative CO2 emissions in the period 2000–2050 do not exceed 1000 to 1500 billion tonnes. If the current global trend of increasing CO2 emissions continues, cumulative emissions will surpass this limit within the next two decades.