New Hampshire, U.S.A. — Even as renewable capacity surges ahead despite a down global economy, this past weekend brought a sobering reminder that market forces continue to pull the world toward carbon emissions — and not away from them.
At the annual U.N. climate talks in Durban, South Africa, the Global Carbon Project released a study that shows that in 2010, emissions actually rose by 5.9 percent. This, despite a recession that many believed would have the unintended (and beneficial) consequence of reducing our carbon emissions. The top emitters include China, India, the United States and Europe — the very areas where much of the world’s renewable capacity has been installed or is being developed.
In a potential development that could signal the inevitability of a true global pact on climate change, a top China scientist talked about capping carbon emissions by 2020. The announcement, confirmed in Durban, could bring it in line with Western nations that have signed onto the Kyoto Protocol, and may pressure the United States into rethinking its “Wait for China” approach.