Carbon dioxide emissions contribute to the problem of global warming and climate change. While CO2 is a natural gas prevalent in the Earth’s atmosphere and occurs naturally through photosynthesis and respiration, it’s also a byproduct of the overuse of fossil fuels.
Due to our unmitigated energy production processes, dating back to the dawn of the industrial age in 1750, humans have increased the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. We refer to these gases when suspended in the atmosphere as “greenhouse gases” and they absorb infrared, leading to a gradual increase in the ambient temperature of the earth. Scientists can measure how much carbon dioxide is in the atmosphere and have noted a steady rise in the concentration, 2 ppm in between 2009 and 2010, for example.
As a human race, we have many ways of polluting the atmosphere and until recent times, carbon dioxide was an important refrigerant and used without restriction. Experts estimate that our activities during the industrial age have increased the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by as much as 35%. Major sources of emissions are car-based CO2 emissions and industry CO2 emissions, often portrayed by the image of smokestacks belching pollution into the air.
Since the Kyoto Protocol, when concerned nations gathered to discuss climate change issues, country-based emissions have been front and center. Kyoto determined that each country must take responsibility for such issues within its borders and must work to regulate.
Who is Most to Blame?
Which country emits the most carbon? Until recent times this dubious honor belonged to the United States – 19.3 metric tons per capita, according to the World Bank. However, with China’s CO2 emissions growing faster than expected, that country has now overtaken the USA. On a per capita basis though, the US, with 19.3 metric tons of emissions is far ahead of China, Russia, India and Japan, the other large contributors to the problem.
Not Our Problem!
A breakdown of carbon dioxide emissions by country prompted the United States to reject the Kyoto Protocol. Part of the protocol called for major emitters to consider strict rules to cut back on carbon emissions, by imposing “cap and trade” carbon markets. The Protocol excluded emerging economies, yet the US could see then that emerging China and other nations (such as India) were becoming major contributors. This was a show-stopper for the US government.
The problem extends beyond individual governments. Even though the United States rejected Kyoto, there’s growing pressure on the country to come back in line. No matter if they do, individual organizations may well have to pay much more attention to their own carbon emissions and leading service providers have predicted this. These providers have developed tools to enable the most diversified organizations to measure and manage carbon emissions as part of a larger push to manage liabilities and foster greater efficiency.