Global Carbon Budget released

Global Carbon Budget released

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Published

8 December 2015

The 2015 Global Carbon Budget, released during the UN Climate Change negotiations, said that Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuels and industry increased by 0.6% in 2014, with a total of about 9.8 Gigatonnes of carbon (GtC (billion tonnes of carbon) emitted to the atmosphere. This is 60% above emissions in 1990, the Kyoto Protocol reference year.

The report from the Global Carbon Project, which is co-sponsored by the World Climate Research Programme, said emissions in 2015 are projected to decline by -0.6% (range -1.6% to +0.5%).

In addition to the 9.8 GtC emitted to the atmosphere, an additional 1.1 GtC in carbon was added to the system from land change use, such as deforestation.

In 2014, the ocean and land carbon sinks respectively removed 27% and 37% of total CO2 (fossil fuel and land use change), leaving 36% of emissions in the atmosphere. The ocean sink in 2014 was about 2.9 GtC, slightly above the 2005-2014 average, whilst the land sink was the largest recorded over the past 60 years at about 4.1 GtC, said the report.

Total cumulative emissions from 1870 to 2014 were some 400 GtC from fossil fuels and cement, and about145 GtC from land use change. The total of 545 GtC was partitioned among the atmosphere (230 GtC), ocean (155 GtC), and the land (160 GtC).

A number of partners contributed to the Global Carbon Budget. One of the review articles, co-authored by the UK’s Met Office, said  large scale carbon capture technology is not the answer to climate change. It said the implications and costs of using carbon capture technology on a large scale, mean that reducing greenhouse gas emissions is still essential.

Integrated Global Greenhouse Gas Information System

As the evidence of human-caused global climate change increases, efforts are accelerating to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

The successful management and evaluation of greenhouse gas emissions reduction policies will also depend on concentration measurements and the ability to follow their changes over a range of temporal and spatial scales.

Based upon the recent advances in greenhouse gas observation technologies, the acquisition of socioeconomic activity data and the computational models used to merge this data, WMO and its partners are developing a plan for an Integrated Global GHG Information System (IG3IS). This aims to be able to evaluate the efficacy of policy, reduce emission inventory uncertainty, and inform additional mitigation actions. The plan was presented at a WMO co-sponsored scientific side event during COP21.

“Our goal is for the Integrated Global Greenhouse Gas Information System to be focused and practical, says Dr. Phil DeCola, Chair of the IG3IS planning process. “For example, if IG3IS can provide new information to a city planner or a pipeline manager that helps them identify ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from their operations, then we can declare a success,” Dr. DeCola said.

Atmospheric measurements and models are already being used to provide emissions information on a global and continental scale through existing networks, but there is a need for more information to guide additional actions – be it by nations, cities or private enterprises - that can reduce emissions for a specific GHG from a specific human activity.

The UN Framework Convention for Climate Change process stands upon the bedrock of sound scientific research and observations Some UNFCCC negotiators see the IG3IS effort having potential to support the planning and management of Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) mitigation efforts by nations once a new agreement has been established.

The IG3IS planning team has also begun discussions with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Task Force on Emission Inventories, in order to evaluate the potential of new technologies to reduce inventory uncertainties.

IG3IS is an initiative of the WMO Commission of Atmospheric Sciences and the Global Atmospheric Watch Programme.

The WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin on atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases in 2014 is available here.

Infographic on the Global Carbon Budget available here.

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