Greenhouse gas emissions rose by a record amount in 2010, leading to the worst-ever carbon output in history, according to unpublished International Energy Agency estimates. The record rise—which, contrary to some predictions, even the recession couldn’t curb—means that hopes of keeping global warming to a safe level is nearly out of reach, the Guardian reports in an exclusive. The paper had previously reported that in order to prevent potentially “dangerous climate change,” we must keep the global average temperature from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius. But the IEA's chief economist now says that idea is just “a nice Utopia.”
The IEA estimates that 30.6 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide entered the atmosphere last year, most of it from burning fossil fuel. That’s a rise of 1.6 gigatonnes over 2009's figure. "I am very worried. This is the worst news on emissions," says the economist for the IEA, which has calculated that annual emissions must remain below 32 gigatonnes annually through 2020 if we're to escape global warming's worst effects. Another expert warns that if the pattern continues, there will be “a 50% chance of a rise in global average temperature of more than 4C by 2100,” which would lead to “widespread mass migration and conflict.” Click to see the latest power duo to fight climate change.