The heat’s on

Carbon emissions are up, but Durban’s a bust

As international climate-change talks ended recently in Durban, South Africa, we learned that global carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels had taken the largest upward jump since the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century.

According to a study by the Global Carbon Project, a group of international scientists who study carbon emissions, the 2010 increase of 5.9 percent is the largest percentage increase since 2003. With half a billion tons of additional carbon entering the air, it’s also the largest absolute increase in centuries.

So much for the recession cutting down on emissions.

In Durban, we got an agreement to talk about a treaty that will go into effect no earlier than 2020. That’s too late.

Several representatives from island nations—Grenada, Seychelles and Nauru—joined demonstrators outside the conference in demanding immediate action. That’s because their countries are already suffering the effects of global climate change in rising sea levels and stronger storms.

Based on the science, we need to get below 350 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere. We’re currently at almost 390 ppm. It’s time to put more pressure on both the Obama administration and the U.S. Senate to sign off on—and enforce—limits on CO2 emissions.

We’re running out of time.