Urgent action needed after US record for greenhouse gases 20 Dec 2005 Lord Rees of Ludlow, the President of the Royal Society (the UK national academy of science), today (20 December 2005) emphasised the international need to act with "even greater urgency and resolve now" following the publication of figures that show record levels of annual emissions of greenhouse gases by the United States in 2004.
A report published in the last week by the United States Energy Information Administration, 'Emissions of greenhouse gases in the United States 2004', shows that the provisional figure for the annual output of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in 2004 by the United States was the highest annual total on record at 7122.1 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. The figure includes emissions from energy consumption and industrial processes, but does not include the effects of land use and sinks.
A comparison with previous figures by the Royal Society shows that the increase in US emissions between 2003 and 2004 was the biggest annual rise since 2000. UK emissions have also risen in each of the last two years.
Lord Rees said: "At the summit in Gleneagles in July, the United States and the other G8 countries agreed to 'act with resolve and urgency now to meet our shared and multiple objectives of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.' But these figures emphasise the need to act with even greater urgency and resolve now." He added: "We should not underestimate the challenge of achieving economic growth whilst reducing emissions and the United States is not the only country that is struggling to do this. But it seems unlikely that the present US strategy of only setting emissions targets relative to economic growth, reducing so-called 'greenhouse gas intensity', will be enough to cut annual total emissions. Indeed the US Government's own projections suggest carbon dioxide emissions could grow by 30 to 47 per cent between 2000 and 2025."
"The current concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is about 380 parts per million, which is probably the highest level for 20 million years and more than a third higher than before the Industrial Revolution. Industrialised countries will need to cut emissions by at least 60 per cent by 2050 if we are to stabilise atmospheric concentrations at twice pre-industrial levels."
Lord Rees continued: "I hope that 2005 will be recognised as a crucial turning point in the battle to avoid the dangerous effects of climate change thanks to the efforts of the G8, and particularly the UK Prime Minister, as well as the participants at the United Nations climate change conference in Montreal earlier this month. But this will only be true if all countries, including the United Kingdom and the United States, now take action to fulfil their commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Otherwise this and future generations across the world will have to pay the price of dealing with the consequences of climate change."
Posted on 28th December 2005
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