Anthropogenic Drivers of CO2 Emissions

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The World Resources Institute, WRI [2], has examined the factors that have driven CO2 emissions for key countries in the 1992-2002 time period. The factors considered are: Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita, population, carbon intensity (i.e., carbon emissions per unit of energy), and energy intensity (i.e., energy usage per unit of GDP). The relationship is as follows: Carbon emissions = GDP per capita x population x carbon intensity x energy intensity. The sum of the rates of these factors approximates the annual Carbon (and CO2) emission growth rate. WRI data [2] has been used to generate Fig. 1.2, which shows how these factors have influenced the annual growth rate of CO2 for selected countries during this 10-year period. As can be seen for the world, despite decreases in the energy use per unit of GDP, the CO2 growth rate has been about 1.4% per year. The rate for the U.S. also has been about 1.4%, but the growth rate for China and India has been about 4% per year driven by economic growth, and for India, population growth as well.

However, a more recent analysis by Raupach [3] concluded that in the period 2000-2004, CO2 worldwide emissions have increased more rapidly than in previous years, at an annual growth rate of 3.2%. This is more than twice the growth rate of the 1992-2002 period. Rapidly developing economies in China and other Asian

Factors Driving CO2 Annual Growth (1992-2002)

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Fig. 1.2 Factors driving CO2 growth rate for selected countries for 1992-2002 period

Fig. 1.2 Factors driving CO2 growth rate for selected countries for 1992-2002 period

Fig. 1.3 1980-2004 CO2 emission data by country. Note: FSU republics of the former Soviet Union, D1 15 other developed nations, including Australia, Canada, S. Korea and Taiwan, D2 102 actively developing countries, from Albania to Zimbabwe and D3 52 least developed countries, from Afghanistan to Zambia

Fig. 1.3 1980-2004 CO2 emission data by country. Note: FSU republics of the former Soviet Union, D1 15 other developed nations, including Australia, Canada, S. Korea and Taiwan, D2 102 actively developing countries, from Albania to Zimbabwe and D3 52 least developed countries, from Afghanistan to Zambia countries are particularly significant. China is currently constructing the equivalent of two, 500-MW, coal-fired power plants per week and a capacity comparable to the entire United Kingdom power grid, each year [4]. Developing economies, together forming 80% of the world's population, accounted for 73% of the global growth in CO2 emissions in 2004. However, these economies accounted for only 41% of emissions themselves and only 23% of emissions since the start of the Industrial Revolution around 1,800. Figure 1.3, Raupach [3], summarize these global emission trends for 1980-2004. Figure 1.4 was derived using country level data from this reference. This indicates the importance of China's industrial growth, as the major factor driving this increased growth rate in recent years. In October of 2009, analyzing the most recent data, Le Quere [5] concluded that global emissions have grown at 3.25% annually for the 2000-2008 period. Therefore, this high growth rate has continued for the last 8 years that data is available. It is expected that there will be a temporary respite from these large growth rates given the worldwide recession that started in early 2008.

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