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Carbon emission levels at all time high as China plans record solar investment

6th Dec 2011

According to new research, global carbon emissions surged by a record amount in 2010 - placing renewed pressure on the investment in renewable resources such as solar power.

The Global Carbon Project found global carbon dioxide emissions increased by a record 5.9 per cent in 2010 - while emissions from developed countries alone increased by 3.4 per cent.

Publishing its yearly analysis of carbon dioxide emissions in the journal Nature Climate Change yesterday (December 5), researchers suggest that the overall atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide is now at its highest level in 800,000 years.

CSIRO climate scientist Mike Raupach, a member of the Global Carbon Project scientific steering committee, was shocked by the findings.

"This was a very large number, an unexpectedly high increase, much greater than the average increase through the decade of the 2000s which has been about 3 per cent and it cancels out a downturn in emissions the year before," he said.

''We are now into our 17th [UN climate conference] and despite the agreement at Kyoto these negotiations have failed to make any dent in emissions.''

Dr Raupach states that the world is more than half way to reaching a trillion tonnes of carbon in the atmosphere - a figure regarded as being the threshold for dangerous climate change.

"The reality that we are not succeeding in producing any downturn in global emissions adds to the urgency of undertaking that task," he said.

Emissions produced by expanding economies such as China and India were up by almost 10 per cent.

However, a recent announcement from the Chinese government could see more than $473 billion spent on clean energy investments over the next five years.

According to deputy director of the National Commission on Population, Resources and Environment Wang Yuqing, the investment comes as part of government efforts to develop a green economy.

The announcement comes as part of the country's twelfth Five-Year Plan for Economic and Social Development (2011-2015) which aims for an installed solar energy capacity of 10 gigawatts by the end of the period.

Looking to promote environmentally friendly industries amid its growing population and rapid urbanisation, China also aims to have 20 per cent of its total energy demand met by wind and solar power by 2021.

As the world's largest consumer of energy and home to the world's second-largest economy, China invested over $47.31 billion in various renewable energy sources projects in 2010.

Posted by Mike Peacock - Solar correspondent 

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