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Blog Posts: emissions

  • New Study Raises Big Questions on U.S. Fugitive Methane Emissions

    A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences sheds light on a question that continues to vex industry executives and policymakers alike: How significant are fugitive methane emissions from oil and gas production?

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  • Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Fossil Fuels and Cement Reach Highest Point in Human History

    We already know the world’s carbon budget is being exhausted at an alarming pace, but a new scientific assessment reveals just how sobering the picture of the global carbon cycle truly is.

    The Global Carbon Project’s (GCP) 2013 report finds that at the precise time emissions reductions are needed most, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from burning fossil fuels and producing cement have reached their highest level in human history.

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  • Designing “Measurable” Post-2020 Emissions Reduction Commitments

    Designing an international climate action agreement that can reduce global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions over the coming decades will be a key focus of discussions at COP 19 this week. A critical component of this new agreement will be the design of national mitigation commitments for countries’ emissions reductions post-2020. This is a complex process, involving a significant number of options. The ease with which emissions and emissions reductions associated with mitigation commitments can be measured is a key consideration. It is critical for strengthening domestic GHG management and helping track national and global emissions reductions. New WRI analysis focuses on how to maximize “measurability” and aims to shed light on how countries can most effectively design their commitments accordingly.

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  • Do We Need a Standard to Calculate “Avoided Emissions”?

    Today, the GHG Protocol is releasing a survey to scope out the need for a new standard to help companies quantify and report the “avoided emissions” of goods and services that contribute to a low-carbon economy—such as low-temperature detergents, fuel-saving tires, or teleconferencing equipment and services.

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  • WRI Launches Upgraded Climate Data Explorer

    The world of open data welcomed a new platform this summer—WRI’s Climate Analysis Indicators Tool, or CAIT 2.0. The platform offers free online access to global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and other climate data, enabling researchers, policymakers, media, and others to download, visualize, and share data for analysis and communications on climate change.

    Today we’re pleased to roll out the next iteration of CAIT 2.0, featuring improved functionality and other upgrades. Check out a screencast of how CAIT 2.0 works, or read on to learn about some of the benefits visitors can expect to find.

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  • Designing the 2015 Climate Agreement: Options for Submitting “National Offers”

    The UNFCCC negotiations are entering a crucial phase. Negotiators decided nearly two years ago to establish an international climate action agreement “with legal force” by 2015. How this agreement will be structured, though, remains to be seen.

    WRI’s new working paper lays out the various options for designing the process for submitting "national offers," countries’ plans to reduce their respective greenhouse gas emissions. It will be critical for negotiators to focus on three key areas: the content of the offers, the timing and process for submitting them, and how they will be reviewed.

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  • World’s Carbon Budget to Be Spent in Three Decades

    EDITOR'S NOTE 11/18/13: After this blog post was published, the IPCC updated its Summary for Policymakers. The figures in this blog post have been updated to reflect new information.

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) has delivered an overwhelming consensus that climate change impacts are accelerating, fueled by human-caused emissions. We may have just about 30 years left until the world’s carbon budget is spent if we want a likely chance of limiting warming to 2 degrees C. Breaching this limit would put the world at increased risk of forest fires, coral bleaching, higher sea level rise, and other dangerous impacts.

    When Will Our Carbon Budget Run Out?

    The international community has adopted a goal for global warming not to rise above 2°C compared to pre-industrial temperatures. Scientists have devoted considerable effort to understanding what magnitude of emissions reductions are necessary to limit warming to this level, as the world faces increasingly dangerous climate change impacts with every degree of warming (see Box 1).

    IPCC AR5 summarizes the scientific literature and estimates that cumulative carbon dioxide emissions related to human activities need to be limited to 1 trillion tonnes C (1000 PgC) since the beginning of the industrial revolution if we are to have a likely chance of limiting warming to 2°C. This is “our carbon budget” – the same concept as a checking account. When we’ve spent it all, there’s no more money (and the planet’s overdraft fees will be much more significant than a bank’s small charges for bounced checks).[^1]

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  • New Study Sheds Light on Methane Leakage from Natural Gas

    Natural gas wells represent a significant source of U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, as many of them leak methane, which is more than 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide. But while scientists know that “fugitive methane” is a concern, there’s much uncertainty about the full extent of the problem. A new study from the University of Texas—developed in partnership with the Environmental Defense Fund and nine natural gas production companies (Anadarko, BG Group, Chevron, EnCana, Pioneer, Shell, Southwest, Talisman, ExxonMobil)—sheds some light on this perplexing issue.

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  • 3 Big Takeaways from the New Global Commitment to Phase Down HFCs

    International climate action took an encouraging step forward today. President Obama reached agreements with the G-20 and with China to phase down the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), potent greenhouse gases used in appliances like refrigerators and air conditioners.

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  • New Report Connects 2012 Extreme Weather Events to Human-Caused Climate Change

    As extreme weather events like wildfires, heat waves, downpours, and droughts continue to make headlines in the United States and around the world, many have wondered what their connection is to climate change. A new report sheds some light, firmly drawing correlations between several extreme weather events in 2012 and human-induced warming.

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