The International Energy Agency’s Newroom has issued a new release on carbon dioxide emissions in 2011 that could be extremely helpful for instructors looking to update their lecture notes. The release indicates that fossil-fuel related carbon dioxide emissions rose to 31.6 gigatons in 2011, representing an increase of 3.2% above 2010 levels. This development is extremely foreboding, because it means that there is virtually no chance of avoiding temperature increases of at least 2C above pre-industrial levels, since the IEA in 2011 concluded that emissions had to peak at 32.6 Gt by 2017 to plausibly avoid this scenario.
Also notable is the growing role of developing countries in driving emissions increases. While emissions actually dropped by 0.6% in OECD States during 2011 (largely as a consequence of fuel switching to natural gas from coal to natural gas and soft economies), they increased by 6.1% in non-OECD countries. While Chinese energy intensity fell by 15% between 2005 and 2012, its emissions still increased by 9.3% in 2011, primarily due to higher coal consumption. India’s emissions also rose by a whopping 8.7%, moving it ahead of Russia to become the fourth largest emitter in the the world behind China, the U.S. and the European Union.