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Global carbon emissions hit record levels in 2011

From the archive: This story is more than 10 years old.

Global carbon emissions hit record levels in 2011

Of the top 10 polluters, only the US and Germany managed to cut their carbon dioxide emissions.

  • Shanghai's perennial fog-and-pollution
    Jesus Arpon/FlickrShanghai's perennial fog-and-pollution

The world is producing too much carbon dioxide to limit global warming to a few degrees, reports the AP.

Global carbon emissions rose by 3 percent in 2011, meaning the world's nations burned enough fossil fuels to pump nearly 38.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the air. That's about a billion tons more than the previous year and 58 percent above 1990 levels,reports the BBC.

The figures were reported Sunday in the journal Nature Climate Change and come amid international climate change talks in Doha, Qatar.

"With emissions continuing to grow, it's as if no-one is listening to the scientific community,"Corinne Le Quere, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia told the BBC. "I am worried that the risks of dangerous climate change are too high on our current emissions trajectory."

"We need a radical plan," she added.

According to AP, the overwhelming majority of the increase came from the world's biggest carbon dioxide polluter -- China.

The United States and Germany were the only countries of the top ten biggest polluters that reduced their carbon dioxide emissions.

Emissions are now increasing so rapidly that an international goal of limiting global warming to 3.6 degrees is looking unattainable, reports the New York Times.

Josep G. Canadell, a scientist in Australia who leads that tracking program, said told the Times on Sunday that salvaging the goal, if it can be done at all, “requires an immediate, large and sustained global mitigation effort.”

The Earth's temperature has already increased about 1.5 degrees since 1850.

This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.

The 2011 figures for the biggest polluters

  1. China, up 10 percent to 10 billion tons.
  2. United States, down 2 percent to 5.9 billion tons
  3. India, up 7 percent to 2.5 billion tons.
  4. Russia, up 3 percent to 1.8 billion tons.
  5. Japan, up 0.4 percent to 1.3 billion tons.
  6. Germany, down 4 percent to 0.8 billion tons.
  7. Iran, up 2 percent to 0.7 billion tons.
  8. South Korea, up 4 percent to 0.6 billion tons.
  9. Canada, up 2 percent to 0.6 billion tons.
  10. South Africa, up 2 percent to 0.6 billion tons.
Source: AP

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