The industrialized world’s emissions of greenhouse gases are growing again, despite efforts under the Kyoto Protocol to cap them and stave off global warming, the United Nations reported Monday.
Emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases declined in the 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet bloc and the shutdown of polluting factories and power plants in eastern Europe. But now those economies are rebounding, contributing to a 2.4 percent rise in emissions by 41 industrialized nations between 2000 and 2004.
“This means that industrialized countries will need to intensify their efforts to implement strong policies which reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Yvo de Boer, head of the U.N. climate treaty secretariat, referring to taxes on carbon-based fuels, energy-efficiency regulations and other steps.
Scientists attribute a 1 degree Fahrenheit rise in global temperatures in the last century in part to the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, a trend they say will lead to climate disruptions.
Under the 1997 Kyoto accord, 35 industrialized nations have committed to reducing emissions by an average 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. The United States, the biggest emitter, rejects the agreement.
Between 1990 and 2004, emissions of all industrialized countries decreased by 3.3 percent, mostly because of a 36.8 percent decrease in the former Soviet bloc, the U.N. reported. Since 2000, however, those “economies in transition” have increased emissions by 4.1 percent.
Of the 41 industrialized nations, 34 increased emissions between 2000 and 2004, the U.N. reported. In the United States, source of two-fifths of the industrialized world’s greenhouse gases, emissions grew by 1.3 percent in that period, and by almost 16 percent between 1990 and 2004.
Among countries bound by Kyoto, Germany’s emissions dropped 17 percent between 1990 and 2004, Britain’s by 14 percent and France’s by almost 1 percent, the U.N. reported.
But Kyoto signatories such as Japan, Italy and Spain have registered emissions increases since 1990. De Boer said such countries will have to make extensive use of Kyoto’s market-based programs, such as the Clean Development Mechanism. That program allows northern nations to buy credits from emission-reduction projects in the developing world, which is not bound by Kyoto quotas.
The 41 nations defined as industrialized by the 1992 U.N. climate treaty do not include fast-developing Third World countries like China and India.
On a positive note, the U.N. said the industrialized world is growing more energy-efficient. Between 2000 and 2004, it said, it took 7 percent less greenhouse gas to produce a dollar of gross domestic product.