Study Finds Global CO2 Emissions Dropped 1.3% in 2009; Emissions in China and India Rose 9% and 6%

Global CO2 emissions decreased 1.3% in 2009, the first decrease recorded this decade, according to an addendum to an earlier study outlining a method for updating global fossil fuel carbon dioxide emissions published in the journal Environmental Research Letters. However, regional differences are “substantial&rdquo, with emissions in China and India increasing by 9 and 6 percent, respectively.

The decrease in emissions follow the decrease in the global economy. This is not unexpected”, said Gunnar Myhre, senior research fellow at CICERO and one of the scientists behind the article.

While emissions from oil and gas have decreased, emissions from coal have remained stable; the share of coal as a fuel has increased.

In contrast to many other countries, China and India increased their emissions in 2009. China is now responsible for 24% of the global fossil emissions of CO2. However, Chinese emissions have increased more than the economic growth. Glen Peters, a senior research fellow at CICERO, pointed to China’s large investments in infrastructure and export production since 2009.

When China invests in roads or buildings, this causes large emissions, as industries like cement and steel industries are very emission intensive”, Peters said. Although the stimulus package from the Chinese government in 2008 was said to have a green focus, even construction of windmills is a relatively emission intensive activity, at least in the short run Peters said.

China also has a large export sector. Exports initially had a big drop during the financial crisis, but quickly recovered. “Due to large exports, China doesn’t only benefit from its own stimulus package, but also from stimulus packages in other countries”, said Peters.


  • G Myhre, K Alterskjær and D Lowel (2010) Addendum to “A fast method for updating global fossil fuel carbon dioxide emissions”. Environ. Res. Lett. 5 039701 doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/5/3/039701

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