Coal use rise looks bad for climate aims
(Adds carbon emissions estimate)
By Gerard Wynn and Jane Merriman
LONDON, June 12 (Reuters) - Ambitious goals to fight climate change look less achievable as coal use continued to soar last year in China and India, data compiled by BP Plc (BP.L) showed on Tuesday.
The data confirmed that China was on track to overtake the United States as the world's number one carbon emitter this year, one analyst said.
"I would still say 2007, this is the year," said Gregg Marland, senior scientist at Austria's International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, and the U.S. Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC).
China's CO2 emissions in 2006 were over 5.7 billion tonnes versus nearly 5.9 billion tonnes in the United States, with China up 8.5 percent and the United States falling slightly, Marland estimated on Tuesday, using the new BP data.
Coal releases more of the planet-warming greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) than any other fossil fuel.
But coal was the fastest growing fuel globally worldwide last year, BP's annual Statistical Review of World Energy showed, rising at a rate that was slightly down on last year but well above the average for the last decade.
A U.N. panel of climate scientists last month said that global CO2 emissions should peak by 2015, to keep atmospheric concentration at levels which the European Union says will avoid the worst effects of climate change.
Manchester University's Kevin Anderson, research director at the Tyndall Centre's energy and climate change programme, said the BP figures suggested this goal was unlikely to be reached.
"None of this is pointing to peaking in 2015," Anderson said. "Without a big global policy change you're seeing very rapidly rising emissions to 2020, 2025."
Last week the eight leading industrialised countries agreed to work with big developing countries to try to clinch by 2009 a new global U.N.-sponsored climate change deal, to succeed or extend the Kyoto Protocol from 2013.
But they failed to agree on a target or timetable for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
No matter what developed countries agree to, it is the rapidly growing developing countries that are increasing their consumption of fossil fuels.
China and India now account for nearly half of all the world's coal consumption, to power their booming economies, and their combined share rose more than 2 percentage points in 2006.
"The high-carbon economies grew so fast that they out-did the rate of energy efficiency improvements in the developed world," said Christof Ruhl, BP's deputy chief economist.
Total consumption of fossil fuels -- coal, oil and natural gas -- last year dropped in most leading developed countries, including in the United States, Japan, Britain and Italy.
But consumption rose in nine out of the top 10 developing countries, with notable increases in China, Saudi Arabia and India, at 8.6 percent, 5 percent and 4.8 percent respectively.
The world in total last year consumed 9.6 billion tonnes of fossil fuels, in oil equivalent, versus 9.3 billion tonnes in 2005, the BP data showed.
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