Mixed picture on CO2 levels

Emissions of global warming gases from the United States have nearly doubled in the last fourteen years, reaching a peak in 2004, according to figures released by the US energy department.

Emissions had risen by 2%, standing at 7,122.1 m tonnes of CO2. The equivalent to 25% of the global output. Due to strong US economic growth, 2005 figures are expected to be similar or greater.

The data comes just two weeks after the US government claimed at the Montreal climate talks that the voluntary approach to reducing emissions was proving successful.

Despite a lack of leadership on a federal level, the governors of seven north-east states agreed to work together to reduce their emissions on their own and will begin to trade carbon under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) from 2009. The states involved include Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Vermont. They intend to cap emissions from power stations then implement a reduction strategy. Some of the money generated from the buying and selling of carbon credits will be used to encourage the use of efficient machinery, buildings and appliances.

Speaking on the latest US emission statistics, Lord Rees, president of the Royal Society, stated: ‘these figures emphasize the need to act with even greater urgency and resolve now.’ He went on to say that the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was about 380 parts per million, probably the highest for 20m years. Industrialised nations would have to achieve 60% reductions by 2050 in order to stabilize atmospheric concentrations at twice pre-industrial levels.

But there was little for Europe to celebrate. A paper released at the end of December showed that 10 of 15 EU countries committed to the reduction of gases as relating to the Kyoto agreement will fall short unless drastic action is taken. According to the Institute for Public Policy Research only Sweden and France are remotely on target. In 13 of the 15 countries are actually experiencing increased emissions.