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More emissions despite improved technology
Despite the efforts of many countries to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, emissions are still increasing in most places. This is because both people and businesses are getting richer and richer. They produce and consume more and more goods and services.
In many cases, the production process and the goods produced are becoming more environmentally friendly. And when emissions per product are reduced, we can say that emissions intensity is reduced. But these improvements are not enough to make up for increased production and consumption.
1. More and more: Global emissions of CO2 (blue line) and the developed nation’s share (gray line). The orange line shows the Kyoto protocol target for emissions from the developed countries in the years 2008-2012. Graphic: GRIDA
Petrol and diesel engines are becoming more efficient, using less fuel to perform the same work. Thus the CO2 emissions for each car trip have become lower. At the same time, people in European countries are driving more often, and more and more goods are being transported by road. In addition, large and heavy cars have become more popular and larger cars emit more greenhouse gases. The result is that emissions from transportation in general are increasing. If the growth in emissions is to stop, we either have to use technology that cuts emissions more quickly and more efficiently, such as fuel-cell engines run on hydrogen, or we simply must drive less.
2. Driving more and more: Although petrol and diesel engines are becoming more efficient, emissions from vehicles are increasing. This is because people are driving more often and more goods are being transported by road. Photo: Corel Gallery.
Consumption per inhabitant is lower in poor countries
In poor countries, emissions intensity is often greater than it is in rich countries because advanced and energy-efficient technology is not available. On the other hand, production and consumption per inhabitant is much lower in the poor countries. Emissions per inhabitant are therefore lower. But many poor and middle-income countries outside Europe are seeing improvements in standards of living in some segments of the population, which is increasing their emissions. Population growth in these countries also contributes to greater emissions.
3. Low consumption: Consumption per inhabitant is low in poor countries. Photo: Siri Eriksen/CICERO
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About this page:
Author: Camilla Schreiner - CICERO (Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research - Oslo) - Norway.
Scientific reviewers: Andreas Tjernshaugen - CICERO, Norway - 2004-01-20 and Dr. Knut Alfsen - Statistics Norway, Norway - 2003-09-12.
Educational reviewer: Nina Arnesen - Marienlyst School, Oslo, Norway - 2004-03-10.
Last update: 2004-03-27.