UN: Greenhouse gas emissions growing rapidly

The rate at which greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions grew in the first decade of the 21st century was almost double the yearly rate from 1970 to 2010, the United Nations said in a draft report obtained by the Guardian.

Emissions grew an average 2.2 percent per year from 2000 to 2010, compared with 1.3 percent per year for the entire period from 1970 to 2010, the Guardian quoted the U.N. report as saying.

In 2010 and 2011, GHG emissions rose 3 percent, the draft report said.

“Current GHG emissions trends are at the high end of projected levels for the last decade,” the U.N. said.

The economic downturn in the late part of the last decade temporarily reduced emissions, but by less than forecast, and it did not change the upward trend, the report said. 

The U.N. blamed the rapid growth in GHG emissions largely on coal-fired power plants, which it said have increased in number in recent years, with 1,000 new ones under construction.

Most of the new coal power plants are in India and China, the draft report said. China gets two-thirds of its power from coal, and the country accounts for 15 percent of global GHG emissions from coal.

The U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is scheduled to release the report this month. It is the last in a series of reports on climate change, following one in September and one in March