> Earth >
Climate change, Global warming
Man-made greenhouse gases > carbon dioxide (CO2)
The Guardian p. 23 20
The Guardian p. 2 1
CO2 / carbon dioxide > carbon emissions / levels
the chief greenhouse gas / the most important global warming gas
UK / USA
- April 29, 2021
concentration of carbon dioxide - August 2021
Greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere
that contribute to climate change
are the highest ever recorded
— and that's going back 800,000 years.
at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
reported that the concentration of carbon dioxide,
one of the primary greenhouse gases,
hit 412.5 parts per million in 2020.
That's 2.5 parts per million higher than in 2019,
and it's now the highest ever observed,
the scientists said.
Drives Climate Change,
Highest Level In 4 Million Years - May 2021
The amount of carbon
dioxide in Earth's atmosphere
reached 419 parts per
million in May,
its highest level in
more than four million years,
the National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration
announced on Monday.
After dipping last
greenhouse gases have begun to soar again
as economies open and
people resume work and travel.
The newly released
about May carbon
dioxide levels show
that the global
community so far has failed
to slow the
gases in the atmosphere,
NOAA said in its
Transportation is the largest contributor
of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States,
just over 28%,
the Environmental Protection Agency reported.
Atmospheric CO2 continues to rise rapidly in 2020
atmospheric CO2 > statistics > 1958 - 15 August 2020
carbon count at Mauna Loa, Hawaii > 412.75 ppm
greenhouse gas emissions
dramatic fall in
global carbon emissions
cause sharpest drop
in carbon output
since records began
Tilling the soil releases
vast amounts of carbon dioxide
into the atmosphere.
Antarctic CO2 hits 400ppm
for first time in 4m years 16 June 2016
global carbon dioxide levels
break 400ppm milestone
UK's CO2 emissions in 2012
Climate-warming gas in atmosphere
passes 400ppm milestone –
interactive UK 10 May 2013
Benchmark monitoring station
detects in Hawaii
record levels of carbon dioxide,
higher than ever
above 'safe' 350ppm mark
greenhouse gases / global output
of heat-trapping carbon dioxide UK
carbon dioxide pollution
carbon dioxide pollution
carbon footprint UK
Which industries and activities emit the most carbon?
Global carbon emissions
steady for first time since 1992
Drop in rich countries' emissions
caused by recession in 2009
was nullified by
from China and India
The Guardian's quick carbon calculator
Calculate the impact
of your travel, home and shopping habits
with our simple
carbon footprint calculator.
World carbon emissions, by country: new data released
the world's biggest polluters / the biggest CO2 emitters
Climate change: The carbon atlas
New figures published today
confirm that China
has overtaken the US
largest emitter of CO2.
This interactive emissions map
shows how the rest of the world
Global C02 emissions
totalled 29,195m tonnes in 2006
– up 2.4% on 2005
USA > Orbiting Carbon Observatory
UK / USA
due to carbon emissions is at highest for 300m years
3 October 2013
carbon tax AUS
carbon tax USA
Climate-warming gas in atmosphere
passes 400ppm milestone – interactive UK 10 May 2013
Benchmark monitoring station detects in Hawaii
record levels of carbon dioxide, higher than ever
above 'safe' 350ppm mark
Carbon Capture Explained
NYT 23 July 2014
Carbon Capture Explained
Video How It Happens The New York Times
23 July 2014
To fight against global warming,
the world needs to sharply reduce
emissions of carbon dioxide
A technology called carbon capture and storage
can keep the
gas out of the environment.
Produced by: Aaron Byrd and Sofia Perpetua
Watch more videos at:
carbon capture / carbon-capturing tools
reduce the output of greenhouse gases
greenhouse gas reductions
cut back on carbon
reduce carbon emissions
Second Kyoto phase UK
Kyoto protocol > Full text
1997 United Nations pact >
Kyoto climate change pact UK
ratify the Kyoto protocol
Corpus of news articles
Earth > Climate change, Global warming
Man-made greenhouse gases > CO2
The New York Times
By JUSTIN GILLIS
of the most important heat-trapping gas in the atmosphere, carbon dioxide, has
passed a long-feared milestone, scientists reported Friday, reaching a
concentration not seen on the earth for millions of years.
Scientific instruments showed that the gas had reached an average daily level
above 400 parts per million — just an odometer moment in one sense, but also a
sobering reminder that decades of efforts to bring human-produced emissions
under control are faltering.
The best available evidence suggests the amount of the gas in the air has not
been this high for at least three million years, before humans evolved, and
scientists believe the rise portends large changes in the climate and the level
of the sea.
“It symbolizes that so far we have failed miserably in tackling this problem,”
said Pieter P. Tans, who runs the monitoring program at the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration that reported the new reading.
Ralph Keeling, who runs another monitoring program at the Scripps Institution of
Oceanography in San Diego, said a continuing rise could be catastrophic. “It
means we are quickly losing the possibility of keeping the climate below what
people thought were possibly tolerable thresholds,” he said.
Virtually every automobile ride, every plane trip and, in most places, every
flip of a light switch adds carbon dioxide to the air, and relatively little
money is being spent to find and deploy alternative technologies.
China is now the largest emitter, but Americans have been consuming fossil fuels
extensively for far longer, and experts say the United States is more
responsible than any other nation for the high level.
The new measurement came from analyzers atop Mauna Loa, the volcano on the big
island of Hawaii that has long been ground zero for monitoring the worldwide
trend on carbon dioxide, or CO2. Devices there sample clean, crisp air that has
blown thousands of miles across the Pacific Ocean, producing a record of rising
carbon dioxide levels that has been closely tracked for half a century.
Carbon dioxide above 400 parts per million was first seen in the Arctic last
year, and had also spiked above that level in hourly readings at Mauna Loa.
But the average reading for an entire day surpassed that level at Mauna Loa for
the first time in the 24 hours that ended at 8 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on
Thursday. The two monitoring programs use slightly different protocols; NOAA
reported an average for the period of 400.03 parts per million, while Scripps
Carbon dioxide rises and falls on a seasonal cycle, and the level will dip below
400 this summer as leaf growth in the Northern Hemisphere pulls about 10 billion
tons of carbon out of the air. But experts say that will be a brief reprieve —
the moment is approaching when no measurement of the ambient air anywhere on
earth, in any season, will produce a reading below 400.
“It feels like the inevitable march toward disaster,” said Maureen E. Raymo, a
scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, a unit of Columbia
From studying air bubbles trapped in Antarctic ice, scientists know that going
back 800,000 years, the carbon dioxide level oscillated in a tight band, from
about 180 parts per million in the depths of ice ages to about 280 during the
warm periods between. The evidence shows that global temperatures and CO2 levels
are tightly linked.
For the entire period of human civilization, roughly 8,000 years, the carbon
dioxide level was relatively stable near that upper bound. But the burning of
fossil fuels has caused a 41 percent increase in the heat-trapping gas since the
Industrial Revolution, a mere geological instant, and scientists say the climate
is beginning to react, though they expect far larger changes in the future.
Indirect measurements suggest that the last time the carbon dioxide level was
this high was at least three million years ago, during an epoch called the
Pliocene. Geological research shows that the climate then was far warmer than
today, the world’s ice caps were smaller, and the sea level might have been as
much as 60 or 80 feet higher.
Experts fear that humanity may be precipitating a return to such conditions —
except this time, billions of people are in harm’s way.
“It takes a long time to melt ice, but we’re doing it,” Dr. Keeling said. “It’s
Dr. Keeling’s father, Charles David Keeling, began carbon dioxide measurements
on Mauna Loa and at other locations in the late 1950s. The elder Dr. Keeling
found a level in the air then of about 315 parts per million — meaning that if a
person had filled a million quart jars with air, about 315 quart jars of carbon
dioxide would have been mixed in.
His analysis revealed a relentless, long-term increase superimposed on the
seasonal cycle, a trend that was dubbed the Keeling Curve.
Countries have adopted an official target to limit the damage from global
warming, with 450 parts per million seen as the maximum level compatible with
that goal. “Unless things slow down, we’ll probably get there in well under 25
years,” Ralph Keeling said.
Yet many countries, including China and the United States, have refused to adopt
binding national targets. Scientists say that unless far greater efforts are
made soon, the goal of limiting the warming will become impossible without
severe economic disruption.
“If you start turning the Titanic long before you hit the iceberg, you can go
clear without even spilling a drink of a passenger on deck,” said Richard B.
Alley, a climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University. “If you wait until
you’re really close, spilling a lot of drinks is the best you can hope for.”
Climate-change contrarians, who have little scientific credibility but are
politically influential in Washington, point out that carbon dioxide represents
only a tiny fraction of the air — as of Thursday’s reading, exactly 0.04
percent. “The CO2 levels in the atmosphere are rather undramatic,” a Republican
congressman from California, Dana Rohrabacher, said in a Congressional hearing
several years ago.
But climate scientists reject that argument, saying it is like claiming that a
tiny bit of arsenic or cobra venom cannot have much effect. Research shows that
even at such low levels, carbon dioxide is potent at trapping heat near the
surface of the earth.
“If you’re looking to stave off climate perturbations that I don’t believe our
culture is ready to adapt to, then significant reductions in CO2 emissions have
to occur right away,” said Mark Pagani, a Yale geochemist who studies climates
of the past. “I feel like the time to do something was yesterday.”
has been revised
to reflect the following correction:
Correction: May 10, 2013
An earlier version of this article misstated
the amount of
carbon dioxide in the air
Thursday’s reading from monitors.
It is .04
percent, not .0004 percent.
Heat-Trapping Gas Passes Milestone, Raising Fears,
Cement Industry Is at Center
of Climate Change Debate
October 26, 2007
The New York Times
By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL
PARIS, Oct. 23 — In booming economies from Asia to Eastern Europe, cement is
literally the glue of progress. A binding agent that holds the other ingredients
that together make concrete, cement is a crucial component in buildings and
roads — which is why some 80 percent of it is made and used in emerging
China alone makes and uses 45 percent of worldwide output. In places like
Ukraine, production is doubling every four years.
But making cement means making pollution, in the form of carbon dioxide
emissions. Cement plants account for 5 percent of global emissions of carbon
dioxide, the main cause of global warming. Cement has no viable recycling
potential; each new road, each new building needs new cement.
Now, green incentives may be increasing pollution. The European Union subsidizes
Western companies that buy outmoded cement plants in poor countries and refit
them with green technology. But the greenest technologies can reduce carbon
dioxide emissions by only about 20 percent.
So when Western companies revamp Eastern factories, the emissions decrease for
each ton of concrete produced. But the amount of cement produced often goes way
up, as does the total pollution generated.
Many of the world’s producers acknowledge the conundrum. “The cement industry is
at the center of the climate change debate — but the world needs construction
material for schools, hospitals and homes,” said Olivier Luneau, head of
sustainability at Lafarge, the global cement giant based in Paris. “Because of
our initiatives, emissions are growing slower than they would without the
Cement manufacturers have invested millions of dollars in green programs, like
the Cement Sustainable Initiative. Lafarge, a leader in doing so, has improved
efficiency by decreasing emissions to 655 pounds of carbon dioxide for each ton
of cement in 2006 emissions from 763 pounds in 1990. Its goal is to get to 610
pounds for each ton by 2010, but the company said it expected it would be
difficult to get much below that number. Lafarge, which bought 17 cement plants
in China in 2005 and has holdings throughout Eastern Europe and Russia,
acknowledges that its total emissions are growing each year.
Many engineers, like Julian Allwood, a professor at the University of Cambridge
in England, see sustainable cement as something of a contradiction in terms —
like vegetarian meatballs.
Cement poses a basic problem: the chemical reaction that creates it releases
large amounts of carbon dioxide. Sixty percent of emissions caused by making
cement are from this chemical process alone, Mr. Luneau of Lafarge said. The
remainder is produced from the fuels used in production, although those
emissions may be mitigated with the use of greener technology.
“Demand is growing so fast and continues to grow, and you can’t cap that,” Mr.
Luneau said. “Our core business is cement, so there is a limit to what we can
Carbon trading arrangements— green incentives created by the European Union and
the Kyoto agreement on curbing greenhouse gases — encourage purchases in Eastern
Europe and Russia by Lafarge and competitors, like HeidelbergCement. But they
also allow manufacturers to increase total production, both in the developing
world and at home.
The European Union effectively limits production of European cement makers in
their home countries by capping their yearly emissions allowances. But there are
no limits in places like Ukraine.
Moreover, European companies get increased emission allowances at home — carbon
credits — by mounting green cleanup projects elsewhere. So buying an old Soviet
factory and converting it to green technology can bring multiple paybacks.
“The investment is much more attractive than it used to be,” said Lennard de
Klerk, director of Global Carbon, a Budapest firm that brokers such carbon
investments in Ukraine, Russia and Bulgaria. Factor the value of the carbon
credits into the cost of refitting a factory in Ukraine, and the predicted rate
of return rises to almost 12 percent from 8.8 percent, he said.
Once the outmoded plants are refitted with clean technology, their emission for
each ton of cement produced declines. The Podilsky plant in Ukraine is being
refitted with greener kilns — a project financed by the Irish cement
manufacturer CRH — and energy consumption for each ton of cement produced is
expected to drop by 53 percent.
But even that sharp drop may not be enough to stop the inexorable growth in
cement emissions over all, or compensate for the new lease on life that
refitting provides old factories that otherwise might have shut their doors.
At the Doncement plant of HeidelbergCement in Ukraine, output soared 55 percent
in the first nine months of 2006. Total production went up more than 10 percent
in Ukraine in 2005 and again in 2006.
One industry project called the Cement Sustainability Initiative suggests that
concrete should be mixed using smaller portions of cement to reduce emissions.
But there is less incentive for manufacturers to make fundamental changes in how
buildings and roads are made.
Mr. Allwood suggested that one solution might be to make concrete in blocks like
large sugar cubes that could be stacked to make buildings and reused if they are
Western cement manufacturers emphasize that the emissions problem cannot be
solved until China and India and other booming economies realize that they must
limit emissions as well.
“Trying to solve emissions in the E.U. or G-8 will not solve the problem unless
emerging economies and their cement production are included,” Mr. Luneau said.
Cement Industry Is at
Center of Climate Change Debate,
Carbon Dioxide in Atmosphere
October 22, 2007
Filed at 10:16 p.m. ET
The New York Times
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Just days after the Nobel prize was awarded for global
warming work, an alarming new study finds that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere
is increasing faster than expected.
Carbon dioxide emissions were 35 percent higher in 2006 than in 1990, a much
faster growth rate than anticipated, researchers led by Josep G. Canadell, of
Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, report
in Tuesday's edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Increased industrial use of fossil fuels coupled with a decline in the gas
absorbed by the oceans and land were listed as causes of the increase.
''In addition to the growth of global population and wealth, we now know that
significant contributions to the growth of atmospheric CO2 arise from the
slowdown'' of nature's ability to take the chemical out of the air, said
Canadell, director of the Global Carbon Project at the research organization.
The changes ''characterize a carbon cycle that is generating
stronger-than-expected and sooner-than-expected climate forcing,'' the
Kevin Trenberth of the climate analysis section of the National Center for
Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo. said the ''paper raises some very
important issues that the public should be aware of: Namely that concentrations
of CO2 are increasing at much higher rates than previously expected and this is
in spite of the Kyoto Protocol that is designed to hold them down in western
Alan Robock, associate director of the Center for Environmental Prediction at
Rutgers University, added: ''What is really shocking is the reduction of the
oceanic CO2 sink,'' meaning the ability of the ocean to absorb carbon dioxide,
removing it from the atmosphere.
The researchers blamed that reduction on changes in wind circulation, but Robock
said he also thinks rising ocean temperatures reduce the ability to take in the
''Think that a warm Coke has less fizz than a cold Coke,'' he said.
Neither Robock nor Trenberth was part of Canadell's research team.
Carbon dioxide is the leading ''greenhouse gas,'' so named because their
accumulation in the atmosphere can help trap heat from the sun, causing
potentially dangerous warming of the planet.
While most atmospheric scientists accept the idea, finding ways to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions has been a political problem because of potential
effects on the economy. Earlier this month, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to
the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and former Vice
President Al Gore for their work in calling attention to global warming.
''It turns out that global warming critics were right when they said that global
climate models did not do a good job at predicting climate change,'' Robock
commented. ''But what has been wrong recently is that the climate is changing
even faster than the models said. In fact, Arctic sea ice is melting much faster
than any models predicted, and sea level is rising much faster than IPCC
According to the new study, carbon released from burning fossil fuel and making
cement rose from 7.0 billion metric tons per year in 2000 to 8.4 billion metric
tons in 2006. A metric tons is 2,205 pounds.
The growth rate increased from 1.3 percent per year in 1990-1999 to 3.3 percent
per year in 2000-2006, the researchers added.
Trenberth noted that carbon dioxide is not the whole story -- methane emissions
have declined, so total greenhouse gases are not increasing as much as carbon
dioxide alone. Also, he added, other pollution plays a role by cooling.
There are changes from year to year in the fraction of the atmosphere made up of
carbon dioxide and the question is whether this increase is transient or will be
sustained, he said.
''The theory suggests increases in (the atmospheric fraction), as is claimed
here, but the evidence is not strong,'' Trenberth said.
The paper looks at a rather short time to measure a trend, Robock added, ''but
the results they get certainly look reasonable, and much of the paper is looking
at much longer trends.''
The research was supported by Australian, European and other international
On the Net:
Carbon Dioxide in
aponline/us/AP-Carbon-Increase.html - broken link
China overtakes US
as world's biggest CO2 emitter
Tuesday June 19, 2007
John Vidal and David Adam
China has overtaken the United States as the world's biggest producer of
carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas, figures released today show.
The surprising announcement will increase anxiety about China's growing role
in driving man-made global warming and will pile pressure onto world politicians
to agree a new global agreement on climate change that includes the booming
Chinese economy. China's emissions had not been expected to overtake those from
the US, formerly the world's biggest polluter, for several years, although some
reports predicted it could happen as early as next year.
But according to the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, soaring demand
for coal to generate electricity and a surge in cement production have helped to
push China's recorded emissions for 2006 beyond those from the US already. It
says China produced 6,200m tonnes of CO2 last year, compared with 5,800m tonnes
from the US. Britain produced about 600m tonnes.
Jos Olivier, a senior scientist at the government agency who compiled the
figures, said: "There will still be some uncertainty about the exact numbers,
but this is the best and most up to date estimate available. China relies very
heavily on coal and all of the recent trends show their emissions going up very
quickly." China's emissions were 2% below those of the US in 2005. Per head of
population, China's pollution remains relatively low - about a quarter of that
in the US and half that of the UK.
The new figures only include carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel burning
and cement production. They do not include sources of other greenhouse gases,
such as methane from agriculture and nitrous oxide from industrial processes.
And they exclude other sources of carbon dioxide, such as from the aviation and
shipping industries, as well as from deforestation, gas flaring and underground
Dr Olivier said it was hard to find up to date and reliable estimates for such
emissions, particularly from countries in the developing world. But he said
including them would be unlikely to topple China from top spot. "Since China
passed the US by 8% [in 2006] it will be pretty hard to compensate for that with
other sources of emissions."
To work out the emissions figures, Dr Oliver used data issued by the oil company
BP earlier this month on the consumption of oil, gas and coal across the world
during 2006, as well as information on cement production published by the US
Geological Survey. Cement production, which requires huge amounts of energy,
accounts for about 4% of global CO2 production from fuel use and industrial
sources. China's cement industry, which has rapidly expanded in recent years and
now produces about 44% of world supply, contributes almost 9% of the country's
CO2 emissions. Dr Olivier calculated carbon dioxide emissions from each
country's use of oil, gas and coal using UN conversion factors. China's surge
beyond the US was helped by a 1.4% fall in the latter's CO2 emissions during
2006, which analysts say is down to a slowing US economy.
The announcement comes as international negotiations to produce a new climate
treaty to succeed the Kyoto protocol when it expires in 2012 are delicately
poised. The US refused to ratify Kyoto partly because it made no demands on
China, and one major sticking point of the new negotiations has been finding a
way to include both nations, as well as other rapidly developing economies such
as India and Brazil. Tony Blair believes the best approach is to develop
national markets to cap and trade carbon, which could then be linked.
Earlier this month, China unveiled its first national plan on climate change
after two years of preparation by 17 government ministries. Rather than setting
a direct target for the reduction or avoidance of greenhouse gas emissions, it
now aims to reduce energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product (GDP)
by 20% by 2010 and to increase the share of renewable energy to some 10%, as
well as to cover roughly 20% of the nation's land with forest.
But it stressed that technology and costs are major barriers to achieving energy
efficiency in China, and that it will be hard to alter the nation's dependency
on coal in the short term. What China needs, said a government spokesman, is
international cooperation in helping China move toward a low-carbon economy.
Chinese industries have been hesitant to embrace unproven clean coal and carbon
capture technologies that are still in their infancy in developed countries.
China overtakes US as
world's biggest CO2 emitter,
hit record levels in 2005:
Fri Nov 3, 2006
12:52 PM ET
GENEVA (Reuters) - Levels of heat-trapping
greenhouse gases in the atmosphere hit a record last year and are likely to keep
rising unless emissions are radically cut, the World Meteorological Organization
(WMO) said in a report on Friday.
The U.N. weather agency found that the so-called "mixing ratios" of carbon
dioxide reached an all-time high of 379.1 parts per billion in 2005, and the
global average for nitrous oxide hit a record 319.2 parts per billion.
"It looks like this will continue like this for the foreseeable future," Geir
Braathen, senior scientific officer at the Geneva-based organization, said of
the rise, which extended the steady upward trend seen in recent decades.
"At least for the next few years, we do not expect any deceleration in the
concentration," he said.
Scientists say the accumulation of such gases -- generated by burning fossil
fuels such as coal, oil and gas -- traps the sun's rays and causes the
temperature of the Earth to rise, leading to a melting of polar ice caps and
glaciers, a spike in extreme weather, storms and floods, and other environmental
shifts that are expected to worsen in coming years.
Speaking ahead of a major U.N. meeting on climate change next week in Nairobi,
Braathen said the Kyoto Protocol on emissions-cutting was not strong enough in
its current form to stabilize or cut the build-up of greenhouse gases.
"To really make C02 (carbon dioxide) concentrations level off, we will need more
drastic measures than are in the Kyoto Protocol today," he said. The pact took
effect last year and calls for the greenhouse gases emitted by developed
countries to be cut to at least 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12.
A detailed study of the economics of global warming, issued in London on Monday,
said that if determined global action to tackle climate change were taken now,
the benefits would far outweigh the economic and human costs.
Failure to act swiftly could result in world temperatures rising by 5 degrees
Celsius (9 Fahrenheit) over the next century, causing severe floods and droughts
and uprooting some 200 million people, the Stern report said.
Greenhouse gases hit record levels in 2005: U.N.,
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transports > cars
transport > electric cars, solar cars, hybrid cars, hydrogen cars