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IEA Finds 2011 Global Carbon Dioxide Emissions at Record High, 2°C Window “About to close”

24 May 2012: Preliminary estimates from the International Energy Agency (IEA) suggest that global carbon-dioxide emissions from fossil-fuel combustion reached a record high of 31.6 gigatons (Gt) in 2011, representing an increase of 3.2% or 1Gt from 2010 levels.

In the IEA's World Energy Outlook 2011, the 450 Scenario that sets to limit to average global temperature increases to 2°C, foresaw emissions peak at 32.6Gt no later than 2017, only one gigaton higher than the new 2011 estimates.  IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol said these “new data provide further evidence that the door to a 2°C trajectory is about to close." According to the estimates, coal accounted for the highest percentage of energy related carbon dioxide emissions, followed by oil and natural gas.

With an increase in energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in China and India in 2011, by 9.3% and 8.7% respectively, the total increase in emissions in non-OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries rose to 6.1%. Estimates from OECD countries showed a slight decrease in emissions, with emissions in the US falling by 1.7% due to the shift from coal to natural gas in power generation; and in the EU by 1.9%. They were higher in Japan by 2.4% due to the increase in the use of fossil fuels after the Fukushima nuclear meltdown early in the year. [IEA Press Release]