Know Climate Change

Adaptation and Mitigation


GHG Emission Trends

IPCC reports (2007) reveal that global GHG emissions have grown since pre-industrial times. Emissions of GHGs covered under the Kyoto Protocol have witnessed an increase of about 70% during 1970–2004.

According to the reports

  • CO2 is the largest source of GHG emissions; with the largest growth in CO2 emissions coming from the power generation and road transport sectors.
  • Emissions of other GHGs, especially CH4 and N2O, have also increased significantly—by 40% and 50% respectively from the 1970 levels. While agriculture is the main contributor to CH4 emissions, the growth of N2O concentration has been largely on account of the combustion of fossil fuels and use of fertilizers.
  • Atmospheric CO2 concentrations have increased by almost 100 ppm since their pre-industrial levels, reaching 379 ppm in 2005. The total CO2-eq (CO2-equivalent) of all long-lived GHGs is now about 455 ppm CO2-eq.

Note: For a given mixture and amount of a GHG, its CO2-eq is the amount of CO2 that would have the same GWP (Global Warming Potential), when measured over a specified timescale (generally 100 years).

The following figure shows the sectoral break-up of GHG emissions for the year 2004.

Source: IPCC, 2007

The increase in emissions due to population growth and increase in per capita GDP (Gross Domestic Product) has continued to outweigh the emission reduction due to decrease in energy intensity (energy requirement per unit GDP). While CO2 emissions per unit of GDP are 40% lower today as compared to the early 1970s, total emissions of CO2 have continued to increase. Moreover, there are considerable differences across regions in terms of the relationship between energy-related CO2 emissions and the socio-economic parameters influencing these emissions.

The following figure shows the difference in GHG emissions in the years 1990 and 2004. We can observe that in almost all the sectors there has been an increase in GHG emissions.

GHG emission by sector in 1990 and 2004
Source: IPCC, 2007

Monitoring Stations of the United Nations Development Programme... Click to know

The UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) has set up global monitoring stations in developing countries to gather data on a number of pollutants that contribute to global warming. Six of these stations have been established in locations ranging from the deserts of Algeria to the mountains of the China–Tibetan region. The usefulness of these stations is limited, as they will only show how the atmosphere looks today and not how it has changed. Yet this exercise is expected to sensitize developing countries to the issue of climate change, and thereby lead to their involvement in mitigating the effects of this change.

Let us now see some country-specific GHG emission trends.