U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights

Recent Data Shows Regional Shifts in Annual Fossil-Fuel CO2 Emission Estimates
Published: May 18, 2009
Posted: May 20, 2009

Each year the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory quantifies the release of carbon from fossil-fuel use and cement production at global, regional, and national spatial scales.  The emission time series estimates are based largely on annual energy statistics published at the national level by the United Nations.  The latest updates estimate the global release to be 8.23 billion tons of carbon for 2006, an all-time high.  Since 1751, CDIAC estimates 329 billion tons of carbon have been emitted to the atmosphere from fossil-fuel burning and cement production, with half the release occurring since the 1970s.  According to the latest updates, two countries - the People's Republic of China and United States - now have annual emissions exceeding 1.5 billion tons of carbon.  The U.S. has long been the world's largest consumer of fossil-fuels and accounted for ~40% of the world's fossil-fuel carbon emissions in 1950.  According to the latest data, China surpassed the U.S. as the world's largest fossil-fuel emitting nation in 2006 thanks to remarkable recent growth (e.g., a 79% increase in PRC fossil-fuel carbon releases from 2000 to 2006).  According to the latest 2006 numbers, U.S. and Chinese emissions are three-to-four times higher than the next largest emitting nations - Russia (427 million tons carbon), India (412), and Japan (353). Regionally, Europe and North America show modest growth in fossil-fuel carbon emissions while emissions from Africa, Asia, and South America continue to grow.  For more information and detail, please visit the CDIAC web site at http://cdiac.ornl.gov/trends/emis/overview.html

Contact: Wanda Ferrell, SC-23.1, (301) 903- 0043
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Atmospheric System Research
  • Research Area: Earth and Environment Systems Data Management

Division: SC-23.1 Climate and Environmental Sciences Division, BER


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