CO2 emissions

GC: npl

CT: The increase in global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) from fossil-fuel combustion and other smaller industrial sources – the main cause of human-induced global warming – slowed down in 2012, while the global average annual growth rate of 2.4 ppm in atmospheric CO2 concentrations in 2012 was rather high.
Actual global emissions increased by 1.4% over 2011, reaching a total of 34.5 billion tonnes in 2012. After a correction for the leap year 2012, this increase was reduced to only 1.1%, compared with an average annual increase of 2.9% since 2000. The CO2 emission trend mainly reflects energy-related human activities which, over the past decade, were determined by economic growth, particularly in emerging countries. In 2012, a ‘decoupling’ of the increase in CO2 emissions from global economic growth (in GDP) took place, which points to a shift towards less fossil-fuel intensive activities, more use of renewable energy and increased energy saving.

S: (last access: 13 February 2015)

N: 1. CO2, chemical formula for carbon dioxide.
carbon dioxide (n): 1869, so called because it consists of one carbon and two oxygen atoms. The chemical was known since mid-18c. under the name fixed air; later as carbonic acid gas (1791). “The term dioxide for an oxide containing two atoms of oxygen came into use in the middle of the 19th century.” (Flood).
emissions (npl): emission (n.), early 15c., “something sent forth,” from Middle French émission (14c.) and directly from Latin emissionem (nominative emissio) “a sending out, a projecting, hurling, letting go, releasing,” noun of action from past participle stem of emittere “send out” (see emit). Meaning “a giving off or emitting” is from 1610s.
2. Carbon dioxide (CO2)) is a colourless, odourless and non-poisonous gas formed by combustion of carbon and in the respiration of living organisms and is considered a greenhouse gas. Emissions means the release of greenhouse gases and/or their precursors into the atmosphere over a specified area and period of time.
3. Carbon dioxide is naturally present in air to the extent of 0.03 percent by volume and 0.05 percent by weight, in rainwater at 2 to 6 ppm, and in most water supplies from zero to 50 ppm. Carbon dioxide is the gas in carbonated beverages. Dissolved in water, it can form carbonic acid H2CO3.
4. Carbon dioxide (CO2) plays an important role in the greenhouse effect; in the field of global warming, the terms “carbon dioxide” and “carbon” are very often used interchangeably.
5. Differences between carbon and carbon dioxide:
Carbon is the element that combines with oxygen to produce carbon dioxide. For every one molecule of carbon, there are two molecules of oxygen (hence CO2). Carbon on its own is not a greenhouse gas, but often CO2 is shortened to carbon for ease of reference, and this is the case with the Carbon Account.
As well as carbon dioxide, there are other gases (such as methane) which cause global warming. Collectively, there are known as ‘greenhouse gases’ and in chemical terms, most of them are hydrocarbons. For ease of comparing the warming effects of each gas, we can convert other greenhouse gases into carbon dioxide equivalents.
6. Comparing regional CO2 emission trends reveals large differences in underlying causes, which complicates the evaluation of the robustness of observed trends. For 2012, remarkable trends were seen in the top 3 emitting countries/regions, which accounted for 55% of total global CO2 emissions. Of these three, China (29% share) increased its CO2 emissions by 3%, which is low compared with annual increases of about 10% over the last decade.
In the United States (16% share) and the European Union (11% share) CO2 emissions decreased by 4% and 1.6%, respectively. In addition, in India and Japan, emissions increased by 7% and 6%, and the Russian Federation.

S: 1. OED –; (last access: 13 February 2015). 2. OECD – (last access: 13 February 2015). 3 & 4. TERMIUM PLUS (last access: 13 February 2015). 5 & 6. (last access: 13 February 2015).


CR: biosphere, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, climate change, combustion , ecology, environment, greenhouse effect, stratosphere.