Greenhouse gases hit record level …. and threaten tourism … while tourism threatens climate

The Doha talks are taking place at present, on global carbon emissions. The UN has confirmed that the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere rose to record levels last year, reinforcing scientists’ warnings that the world is on course for dangerous global warming. TravelMole reports that this will cause more pressure to minimize tourism-related carbon emissions – principally from air travel and accommodation. Global warming will also threaten tourism destinations – principally small islands, delta destinations and winter sports destinations. Global CO2 was at 391 ppm in October, compared to the pre-industrial era level of 280 ppm. About 375bn tonnes of carbon have been released into the atmosphere since the start of the industrial era in 1750, and much of it remains there for centuries.  Temperatures have already risen 0.8 C and stopping an increase of over 2C is not likely.  The carbon emissions from global aviation are around 5% of anthropogenic climate change, taking into account the non-CO2 impacts (see below).  World Tourism Organisation says tourism accounts for about half of all global air passengers.




Atmospheric CO2 data

Greenhouse gases hit record level and threaten tourism

28.11.2012 (TravelMole)

World may be on course for dangerous level of warming within 50 years

The amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere rose to record levels last year, the UN has reported, reinforcing scientists’ warnings that the world may be on course for dangerous global warming.

In which case there will be more pressure to minimize tourism-related carbon emissions – principally from air travel and accommodation. Global warming will also threaten tourism destinations – principally small islands, delta destinations and winter sports destinations.

Concentrations of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas emitted by human activities such as burning fossil fuels in power plants, increased to 390.9 parts per million molecules in 2011, a sharp rise from the pre-industrial era level of 280 ppm.

Rising concentrations of the three gases in the Earth’s atmosphere threaten to render impossible the UN’s goal of containing the temperature increase to below 2 degrees Celsius of warming since industrialization, the International Energy Agency said earlier this month.

About 375bn tonnes of carbon have been released into the atmosphere since the start of the industrial era in 1750, the WMO said, mainly from burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas.

About half of this carbon dioxide is still there, with the rest being absorbed by the oceans, forests and other life forms that absorb C02.

“These billions of tonnes of additional carbon dioxide in our atmosphere will remain there for centuries, causing our planet to warm further and impacting on all aspects of life on earth,” said the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) secretary-general Michel Jarraud. “Future emissions will only compound the situation.”

UN climate treaty envoys gather in Doha next week for two weeks of talks to extend targets under the current emissions- limiting deal, the Kyoto Protocol, and to lay the groundwork for a new pact in 2015 that will take effect from 2020. Greenhouse gases get their name from the way they absorb radiation within the Earth’s atmosphere and cause it to warm. Because they last so long, scientists say they could cause runaway climate change unless curbed.

Envoys are expected to finalise a second phase of the Kyoto protocol, the treaty adopted in 1997 that obliges industrialised countries to reduce their emissions.

They are also due to do more groundwork on a new climate pact agreed at last year’s talks in Durban, South Africa, which is due to be finalised by 2015 and enter force from 2020.

But many countries at the talks will be urging more rapid action to tackle the rise in greenhouse gas emissions before it is no longer possible to meet the UN target of holding the increase in global average temperature to less than 2 °C above pre-industrial levels.

Temperatures have already risen 0.8 degrees and scientists fear there could be 4°C warming by the end of the century unless there is action to reduce emissions.

by Valere Tjolle!vnm&w_id=8490&news_id=2004111




UNEP Greenhouse Gas Emissions Report Finds Climate Change Goals Growing More Elusive

23.11.2012  (Huggington Post)

By Wynne Parry, LiveScience Contributor:

Global greenhouse-gas emissions already have passed the point where the worst effects of global warming could be averted, and they are still rising, according to the third annual United Nations report on the so-called emissions gap.

Some countries have made pledges to help reverse this trend by lowering their emissions. However, the report by the U.N. Environment Programme warns that the gap between these pledges and reductions necessary to cap average global warming at 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2020 continues to widen.

“In addition we have one year less to close it,” said Niklas Höhne, one of the UNEP report’s lead authors.

The report, released shortly before an annual round of climate talks set to begin on Monday (Nov. 26) in Qatar, seeks to balance a heightened sense of urgency with a positive message.

“It is technically feasible and economically feasible that the gap can be closed,” Höhne, director of energy and climate policy at the independent research and consulting company Ecofys, told LiveScience.

The math

In 2009, at a meeting in Copenhagen, international negotiators agreed to the goal of capping global warming at 2 degrees C by 2020. Following the meeting, some nations submitted pledges to cut their emissions. The United States, for example, pledged to bring its emissions to about 17 percent below the 2005 level.

In the years since, nations have not made any substantial change to their pledges.

The UNEP report highlights the gap between these pledges and cuts needed put the world on a “likely” path to stay below the 2-degree target. It calculates that the annual emission rate by 2020 should be no more than  48.5 gigatons (44 metric gigatons) of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. [8 Ways Global Warming Is Already Changing the World]

Using the most recent data available, for 2010, the report puts current emissions at 54 gigatons (49 metric gigatons). Extrapolate out to 2020, and the gap grows to between 8.8 and 14.3 gigatons (8 and 13 metric gigatons). Last year’s report put the gap at between 6.6 and 12.1 gigatons (6 and 11 metric gigatons).

This year’s report attributes the increase to faster-than-expected growth from 2009 to 2010 after the economic downturn. (More economic activity creates more greenhouse-gas emissions.) Improved accounting, taking into account situations in which two countries claim credit for the same emissions reductions, also contributed, the report stated.

(A word about these calculations: While carbon dioxide is the dominant greenhouse gas, others such as methane, which has potent warming effect but stays in the atmosphere for only a minuscule period of time compared with carbon dioxide, also contribute. The UNEP report lumps greenhouse gases together, describing them in terms of “carbon dioxide equivalent.” Because of the differences among the gases, not all scientists support this approach.)

Two sides of a story

Prior to the UNEP report, the World Bank released its assessment of a future resulting from no action, in which the average global surface temperature climbs by 3 degrees C (5.4 degrees F) or more and the world sees more extreme effects.

As emissions continue to climb, some climate scientists have said that an increase of 4 degrees C (7.2 degrees F) is a more likely scenario.

The World Bank report, called “Turn Down the Heat,” describes a future world of unprecedented heat waves, severe drought and major floods in many regions. The effects are expected to hit humans hard, particularly in the poorer parts of the world.

Both reports attempt to convey a positive message:

“With action, a 4-degree C world can be avoided, and we can likely hold warming below 2 degrees C,” the authors of the World Bank report write.

The UNEP emissions gap report, meanwhile, lists policies that, when implemented, could help narrow the gap. These include energy-efficiency standards and labeling for equipment and lighting; improvements in building codes; transportation infrastructure focused on mass transit, walking, cycling and waterways; and forestry policies such as Brazil’s increasing protection of areas in the Amazon and its investment in satellite-based monitoring to prevent illegal deforestation.

“There is certainly more action now than ever if you [look] at what is happening in different countries,” Höhne said.




See also

Climate change, impacts and vulnerability in Europe 2012

EEA Report No 12/2012
Cover Image
This European Environment Agency (EEA) report presents information on past and projected climate change and related impacts in Europe, based on a range of indicators. The report also assesses the vulnerability of society, human health and ecosystems in Europe and identifies those regions in Europe most at risk from climate change. Furthermore, the report discusses the principle sources of uncertainty for the indicators and notes how monitoring and scenario development can improve our understanding of climate change, its impacts and related vulnerabilities.

Published by EEA (European Environment Agency)

Nov 21, 2012


They have produced a range of interesting charts, showing various climate impacts over the recent past and forecasts for future decades. These are at  Charts 
For example, this one:
see an enlarged version at  Charts 



See also

US coastal cities in danger as sea levels rise faster than expected, study warns

Satellite measurements show flooding from storms like Sandy will put low-lying population centres at risk sooner than projected



Aviation now contributes 4.9% of climate change worldwide

May 2009

Work by the IPCC now estimates that aviation accounted for 4.9% of man-made climate impacts in 2005. This contrasts with the 2% figure that is constantly quoted by aviation lobbyists, and 3% which the same authors quoted two years ago. They have now revised their estimates with 2 important changes: including for the first time estimates of cirrus cloud formation and allowing for aviation growth between 2000 and 2005. The effect of these is to increase aviation’s impacts to 3.5% without cirrus and 4.9% including cirrus. 23.5.2009  More  …



World Tourism Organisation says tourism accounts for about half of all global air passengers

Date added: January 19, 2012

UN World Tourism Organisation says tourism’s contribution to global climate change is about 5%. If tourism were a country, it would be the 5th largest emitter worldwide, ahead of Germany (6th) and Canada (7th). About 75% of total tourism carbon emissions are from travel. Of this air travel accounts for 40% of tourism’s contribution of CO2. Around half of air passengers globally are tourists. The number of air travellers is projected to double from 2007 to 2025 to more than 9 billion travellers a year. The industry would need to cut its carbon intensity in half by 2025 just to keep total emissions at 2007 levels. Globally, the number of international tourists is thought likely to reach one billion during 2012 – so perhaps half a billion tourists in Europe.

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