Kingdom's emissions still on the rise

business February 02, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

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Greenhouse gas per capita has risen from 3.7 tonnes to 6.2 tonnes over 10 years from 1990

Though Thailand’s greenhouse gas emissions per capita remained under the global average from 1990-2010, the country has seen a continued increase in the emission level. 
According to the UN Escap’s Statistical Yearbook for Asia-Pacific 2013, Thailand’s GHG emissions rose from 3.7 tonnes to 6.2 tonnes, which is slightly above the average of 6.1 tonnes in Asia-Pacific, but lower than the global average of 7.1 tonnes. Among Southeast Asian nations, Laos was the highest at 15.6 tonnes, while the lowest, at 1.7 tonnes, was Singapore.
Asia-Pacific was the only region that witnessed a continued increase, while other parts of the world led by Europe managed to bring down emissions.
“Growing wealth and consumption across the world has contributed to global CO2 concentrations increasing by an average of 2ppm during the past decade. As concentrations depend on emissions accumulated over time, ambitious targets and urgent action are needed to reverse the rise of concentrations in the atmosphere,” the yearbook said.
In 2010, Asia-Pacific GHG emissions increased by 1.5 per cent from the previous year, which is similar to the global increase. The most dramatic increases were in countries with very low absolute levels of emissions, including Bhutan, Cambodia and Laos. 
Of the countries with higher emission levels, China, India, Japan and South Korea continued to increase emissions by 4-7 per cent, while those of the Russian Federation increased by a more moderate 1.2 per cent. 
The largest proportional reductions were recorded in Indonesia (26 per cent), the Cook Islands (20 per cent), Hong Kong (7.9 per cent), Malaysia (7.3 per cent) and Australia (5.8 per cent).
In the 20-year period, Asia-Pacific was responsible for more than half of total global GHG emissions. In 2010, China at about 23 per cent became the country with the largest share of global GHG emissions, which is about the same share as Latin America and the Caribbean and North America combined. 
For the highest shares of emissions in the region, China is followed by India with 5.5 per cent, the Russian Federation with 5.1 per cent, Indonesia with 4.0 per cent and Japan with 2.8 per cent of global emissions. Emissions from Europe account for 12 per cent, which is slightly lower than those from North America at 15.2 per cent.
On a per capita basis, in 2010, Asia-Pacific’s average of 6.1 tonnes of GHG (CO2 equivalent) emissions remained slightly below the global average of 7.1. Developed countries in the region average 13.5 tonnes, while developing countries in the region average 5.8 tonnes, or 6.5 if China and India are excluded. 
The largest emitters in the region are Brunei at 50 tonnes, Australia and Mongolia at 28 and 26, and Kazakhstan, Laos, New Zealand, the Russian Federation and Turkmenistan at 16-20. China emits 8.2 tonnes, compared with 21.5 in North America and 9.9 in Europe.
From 2005-10, the region contributed more than half of all global CO2 emissions, with China accounting for 24.8 per cent of global emissions. Emissions increased much more significantly in South and Southwest Asia (32 per cent), East and Northeast Asia (31.5 per cent) and Southeast Asia (22.8 per cent).
The generation of electricity and heat account for 41 per cent of CO2 emissions, followed by transport at 22 per cent, industry at 20 per cent, and residential and others each at about 10 per cent. 
Since energy infrastructure has a long lifetime, investments made today will impact emission levels for decades to come. According to the World Energy Outlook 2012, unless global coordinated action to reduce CO2 emissions from energy is taken urgently, reducing CO2 emissions in line with the 450 Scenario will become costly.
Several countries in Asia-Pacific – including Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Maldives, the Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Papua New Guinea, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand and Tuvalu – have introduced voluntary targets to reduce CO2 emissions in absolute amounts or to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels. 
China has set a goal to reduce by 2020 CO2 emissions per unit of GDP by 40-45 per cent below 2005 levels, as well as to increase forest cover by 40 million hectares. China has also recently instituted a natural resources tax and is planning to put in place domestic carbon trading.
A pilot carbon trading scheme was launched in Shenzhen last June, to be followed by carbon trading schemes in six other locations before this year.