Global carbon dioxide emission reductions that would be needed to limit global warming to 2°C aren't happening, according to new figures produced by the Global Carbon Project (GCP).

Global CO2 emissions have increased by 58% since 1990, they estimate, rising 3% in 2011, and 2.6% in 2012. The most recent figure is estimated from a 3.3% growth in global gross domestic product and a 0.7% improvement in the carbon intensity of the economy. They say the latest carbon dioxide emission estimates are at the high end of a range of emission scenarios, expanding the gap between current trends and the course of mitigation needed to keep global warming below 2°C.

They say international climate negotiations need to recognize and act upon the growing gap between the current pathway of global greenhouse emissions and the likely chance of holding the increase in global average temperature below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

But the biggest culprits of the past have already done that.  American CO2 emissions from energy are now as low as they were 20 years ago. Developing countries are not willing to let their citizens suffer without heat or air conditioning just because rich nations already have those things and want to keep existing levels of energy use worldwide.

 The estimates compared recent carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion, cement production, and gas flaring with emission scenarios used to project climate change by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

"We need a sustained global CO2 mitigation rate of at least 3% if global emissions are to peak before 2020 and follow an emission pathway that can keep the temperature increase below 2˚C",  said  Dr Glen Peters from CICERO, Norway. "Mitigation requires energy transition led by the largest emitters of China, the US, the European Union and India."

Two of those have always been exempt from climate negotiations because they are developing nations.

Published in Nature Climate Change.