Time series: Global
Since 1751 approximately 356 billion metric tonnes of carbon have been released to the atmosphere from the consumption of fossil fuels and cement production. Half of these fossil-fuel CO2 emissions have occurred since the mid 1980s. The 2009 global fossil-fuel carbon emission estimate, 8738 million metric tons of carbon, represents a slight decline of 0.35% from an all-time high (8769 million metric tons of carbon) in 2008. The slight decline is due to the Global Financial Crisis which began in mid-2008 and had obvious economic and energy use consequences, particularly in North America and Europe.
Globally, liquid and solid fuels accounted for 76.6% of the emissions from fossil-fuel burning and cement production in 2009. Combustion of gas fuels (e.g., natural gas) accounted for 17.9% (1568 million metric tons of carbon) of the total emissions from fossil fuels in 2009 and reflects a gradually increasing global utilization of natural gas. Emissions from cement production (413 million metric tons of carbon in 2009) have more than doubled since the mid 1990s and now represent 4.7% of global CO2 releases from fossil-fuel burning and cement production. Gas flaring, which accounted for roughly 2% of global emissions during the 1970s, now accounts for less than 1% of global fossil-fuel releases.
Preliminary 2009 and 2010 global and national estimates of carbon emissions from fossil-fuel combustion and cement manufactureThese estimates show that 2010 was by far a record year for CO2 emissions from fossil-fuel combustion and cement manufacture. Globally 9,139 Teragrams of oxidized carbon (Tg-C) were emitted from these sources. A teragram is a million metric tons. Converted to carbon dioxide, so as to include the mass of the oxygen molecules, this amounts to over 33.5 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide. The increase alone is about 512 Tg-C, or 5.9%, over the 2009 global estimate. The previous record year was 2008, with 8,749 Tg-C emitted; the 2010 estimate is about 104.5% of that, or 391 Tg-C more. Much of the 5.9% global increase from 2009 to 2010 is due to increased emissions from the world's largest fossil-fuel emitter, the People's Republic of China, where emissions rose 10% to 2.247 Tg-C.
Emissions from the United States were 1,498 Tg-C, up by almost 60 Tg-C, or 4%, of the 2009 estimates of 1,438 Tg-C. The record year for the United States was 2007, with estimated emissions of 1,589 Tg-C. The 2010 total is about 94% of that value, reflecting economic conditions.
The general methodology used to produce the 2009 and 2010 estimates is described here.
Excel spreadsheet with preliminary 2009 and 2010 global and national estimates of carbon emissions from fossil-fuel combustion and cement manufacture data is available here.
A manuscript report on these latest numbers has been submitted for peer review. A report on last year's update with some of the methodology involved was published in: Friedlingstein P., R.A. Houghton, G. Marland, J. Hacker, T.A. Boden, et al. 2010. Update on CO2 emissions. Nature Geoscience. 3 811-812, doi 10-1038/ngeo1022.
Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge, Tenn., U.S.A.