IEA assists UN climate talks by providing summary of emissions data

9 December 2014

The UN climate negotiations under way in Lima require accurate carbon emissions data. To help the process, the IEA is providing the highlights from its annual compendium of CO2 emissions from fuel combustion, free for download to everyone as a digital book plus Excel data tables.

As the use of energy is by far the human activity that produces the most greenhouse gases, each year the IEA publishes CO2 Emissions from Fuel Combustion, the authoritative and comprehensive accounting of energy-related carbon dioxide release for more than 140 countries and regions. Among its nearly 250 pages of tables, the book devotes two pages to detailed data for each region and country, including emissions estimates dating back decades.

But specially curated for the UN climate talks, CO2 Emissions from Fuel Combustion – Highlights 2014, like its name indicates, features the full book’s most important emissions findings in summary form, allowing delegates and other readers quick access to crucial data in easily comparable form.

Not only do the free publication and spreadsheets report total carbon dioxide emissions for select years from 1971 to 2012 by all 140-plus countries and regions plus bunkers, it also presents those emissions by both sector and fuel, with the right-most column of those tables showing the percentage change from 1990 to 2012. The emissions are also divided by population, gross domestic product (measured two ways) and total primary energy supply (TPES). And the digital book includes the two-page overviews for six groupings of countries determined by their status under the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

With the detailed but easily viewed data in Highlights, negotiators and other interested parties can easily determine not just total emissions by a given country or region, but they can also see the trend of its emissions, with data back to 1971, as well as emissions per capita and only from consumption of natural gas or for transport.

Besides careful explanation of the sourcing and methodology used to produce the data, Highlights provides a summary of the full book’s detailed overview of developments in CO2 emissions. Total CO2 emissions from fuel combustion reached 31.7 gigatonnes worldwide in 2012, up 1.2% from the year before, about half the average annual rate since 2000. Emissions from electricity and heat production rose 1.8% from 2011 to 2012, faster than the increase in overall emissions, and fuel combustion for electricity and heat was the top sector for emissions, responsible for 42% of the total in 2012, followed by transport at 23% and industry at 20%. Coal represented 29% of global TPES in 2012 but 44% of CO2 emissions, while the portions of emissions from oil and natural gas were within 3 percentage points of their share of TPES, which were 32% and 21% respectively.

The climate negotiations being held in Lima – formally known as COP 20 – are expected to be a critical step in the path towards a binding international climate agreement at next year’s COP 21 meeting in Paris. Following COP 20 in Lima, countries will officially put forward their planned contributions to the climate agreement.