Statistical Yearbook for Asia and the Pacific 2012
 
   
F. Environment
 
F.1. Atmosphere and climate change

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are continuing to rise globally and in the region. GHGs come in a number of different forms and from multiple sources. Fossil fuel use is responsible for most global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and a large part of global anthropogenic GHG emissions overall. Other GHGs – such as methane (CH4) – that also have significant potential to contribute to the overall challenges associated with climate change are mainly associated with agricultural activities and related land use changes. With average global CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere nearing 400 parts per million (ppm) and increasing by 2 ppm per year, urgent action is required to reverse the dangerous trend of rising GHG emissions of all types and sources.

Emissions of different types of GHGs can be combined into a single measure using measures of their global warming potential (GWP). GWP is calculated for the non- CO2 GHGs as the ratio of radiative forcing (or warming potential) relative to the same mass of CO2. In line with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the combined GHG emission figures are estimated using the CO2 equivalent GWP for a 100-year time period.1 Compared with GHGs such as CH4 and nitrous oxide (N20), CO2 has a relatively low radiative forcing potential. However, CO2 remains a major concern in relation to climate change due to the rapid growth in CO2 emissions during recent decades.

It is generally estimated that, to avoid the most serious consequences of global warming, the global surface temperature cannot be allowed to increase more than 2 °C over the pre-industrial average, and to have a 50 per cent chance of reaching this goal, the long-term concentration of GHGs in the atmosphere needs to be limited to 450 ppm of CO2 equivalent.2

In 2011, global average CO2 concentrations amounted to 390 ppm, which is 110 ppm higher than the pre-industrial average of 280 ppm.3 During 2012-2013, individual measurements of 400 ppm were recorded at sites in the Arctic and in Hawaii, United States of America.4

Figure F.1-1
Global greenhouse gas composition, 2010

Figure F.1-1 Global greenhouse gas composition, 2010Others: HFCs = 1.5%; PFCs = 0.2%; SF6 = 0.3%

Source: International Energy Agency, CO2 Emissions from Fuel Combustion (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development/ International Energy Agency, Paris, 2012).

In 1990-2010, the Asian and Pacific region was responsible for more than half of total global GHG emissions.

In 2010, China became the country with the largest share of global GHG emissions, accounting for about 23 per cent of the global total, which is approximately the same share as Latin America and the Caribbean and North America combined. For the highest shares of emissions in the region, China is followed by India with 5.5 per cent, the Russian Federation with 5.1 per cent, Indonesia with 4.0 per cent and Japan with 2.8 per cent of total global emissions. Emissions from Europe account for 12 per cent of the global total, which is slightly lower than those from North America, with 15.2 per cent.

Figure F.1-2
Greenhouse gas emissions, Asia and the Pacific and rest of the world, 1990-2010 (global warming potential carbon dioxide equivalent)

Figure F.1-2 Greenhouse gas emissions, Asia and the Pacific and rest of the world, 1990-2010 (global warming potential carbon dioxide equivalent) In 2010, GHG emissions in the Asian and Pacific region increased by 1.5 per cent from the previous year, which is similar to the global increase. The most dramatic year-to-year increases were in countries with very low absolute levels of emissions, including Bhutan, Cambodia and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. At the same time, of the countries with larger emission levels, China, India, Japan and the Republic of Korea continued to increase emissions by between 4 per cent and 7 per cent, while those of the Russian Federation increased by a more moderate 1.2 per cent. The largest proportional reductions in year-to-year emission levels were recorded in Indonesia (26 per cent), the Cook Islands (20 per cent), Hong Kong, China (7.9 per cent), Malaysia (7.3 per cent) and Australia (5.8 per cent).

Although the region still records a higher level of GHG intensity (GHG emissions in tons of CO2 equivalent per 1,000$ GDP) than the global average, the level has been falling continuously since 1990, which implies that each unit of value of economic production in the region’s economies is being achieved in correlation with reduced amounts of GHG emissions.

GHG intensity in the Asian and Pacific region in 2010 was 1.2 compared with the world average of 0.8 (expressed as GHG emissions in tons of CO2 equivalent per 1,000$ GDP). The rate of reduction in GHG intensity since 1990 has been the same as the global average and also that of the United States of America, but slower than that of Europe.

Figure F.1-3
Greenhouse gas emissions per capita (carbon dioxide equivalent), 1990-2010

Figure F.1-3 Greenhouse gas emissions per capita (carbon dioxide equivalent), 1990-2010On a per capita basis, in 2010, the Asian and Pacific region’s average of 6.1 tons of GHG (CO2 equivalent) emissions remained slightly below the global average of 7.1. Developed countries in the region average 13.5 tons per capita, while developing countries in the region average 5.8 tons per capita (6.5 if China and India are excluded). The largest emitters in the region on a per capita basis are Brunei Darussalam at 50 tons, Australia and Mongolia at 28 and 26 tons, respectively, and Kazakhstan, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, New Zealand, the Russian Federation and Turkmenistan at between 16 and 20 tons. China emits 8.2 tons per capita, compared with 21.5 tons in North America and 9.9 tons in Europe.

CO2 emissions from the Asian and Pacific region have been rising at a more rapid rate than overall GHG emissions from the region.

Between 2005 and 2010, CO2 emissions increased in the region by 26.2 per cent while GHG emissions increased by 14.7 per cent. In the same period, while increasing by only 2.7 per cent in the Pacific and 7.2 per cent in North and Central Asia, CO emissions have increased much more significantly in South and South- West Asia (32 per cent), East and North-East Asia (31.5 per cent) and South-East Asia (22.8 per cent). The region now contributes more than half of all global CO2 emissions, with China accounting for 24.8 per cent of global CO2 emissions, or 47.5 per cent of those from the region.

In its publication World Energy Outlook, the International Energy Agency (IEA) presents the “450 Scenario,” which “sets out an energy pathway consistent with the goal of limiting the global increase in temperature to 2 °C by limiting the concentration of GHGs in the atmosphere to around 450 ppm of CO2.”5 Projections by IEA have indicated that, to reach the target of 450 ppm, emission levels would need to start declining by 2020 at the latest.6 As CO2 emissions form the majority of global GHG emissions, and fossil fuel combustion is the primary source of CO2 emissions, contributing 65 per cent of all GHG emissions,7 reducing the consumption of fossil fuels is critical.

Figure F.1-4
Carbon dioxide emissions, Asian and Pacific region and rest of the world, 1995-2010

Figure F.1-4 Carbon dioxide emissions, Asian and Pacific region and rest of the world, 1995-2010The generation of electricity and heat currently account for 41 per cent of CO2 emissions, followed by transport at 22 per cent, industry at 20 per cent, and residential and others each at about 10 per cent.8

Since energy infrastructure has a long lifetime, investments made today will impact emission levels for decades to come. According to the World Energy Outlook 2012, unless global coordinated action to reduce CO2 emissions from energy is taken urgently, reducing CO2 emissions in line with the 450 Scenario will become more costly.9

Box F.1-1
Setting targets to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the region

Several countries in the Asian and Pacific region, including Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Maldives, the Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Papua New Guinea, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand and Tuvalu, have introduced voluntary targets to reduce CO2 emissions in absolute amounts or to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels. China has set a goal to reduce by 2020 CO2 emissions per unit of GDP by 40 per cent to 45 per cent below 2005 levels, as well as to increase forest cover by 40 million hectares. China has also recently instituted a natural resources tax, and is planning to put in place a domestic carbon trading system. As a first step, a pilot carbon trading scheme was launched in Shenzhen in June 2013, to be followed by carbon trading schemes in six other locations before 2014.a

Growing wealth and consumption across the world has contributed to global CO2 concentrations increasing by an average of 2 ppm during the past decade.b As concentrations depend on emissions accumulated over time, ambitious targets and urgent action are needed to reverse the rise of concentrations in the atmosphere.

____________________
a See www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/may/22/china-carbon-trading-shenzhen.
b See www.globalcarbonproject.org/carbonbudget/12/hl-full.htm.
Both CH4 and N2O emissions have continued to rise in the Asian and Pacific region, particularly in East and North-East Asia. In the 1990s, the region contributed less than half of all global sulphur dioxide (SO2). Since then, emissions from the rest of the world have been reducing, while, since 2000, those from the Asian and Pacific region have been increasing.

CH4 and N2O emissions are important in particular because they are potent GHGs. SO2 emissions can lead to acid rain and harm human health. China contributed about 40 per cent of N2O emissions and 36 per cent of CH4 emissions from the region in 2008. While CO2 emissions are primarily related to energy, the main source of CH4 and N2O is agriculture (see key message on emissions from agriculture).

Figure F.1-5
Methane emissions, Asian and Pacific subregions, 1970-2008

Figure F.1-5 Methane emissions, Asian and Pacific subregions, 1970-2008

Figure F.1-6
Nitrous oxide emissions, Asian and Pacific subregions, 1970-2008

Figure F.1-6 Nitrous oxide emissions, Asian and Pacific subregions, 1970-2008

Figure F.1-7
Sulphur dioxide emissions, Asia and the Pacific and rest of the world, 1990-2008

Figure F.1-7 Sulphur dioxide emissions, Asia and the Pacific and rest of the world, 1990-2008SO2 emissions, like CO2 emissions, come mainly from the combustion of coal and petroleum. As a result of a continuous increase in the rate, SO2 emissions from the Asian and Pacific region contributed nearly two thirds (63.5 per cent) of global SO2 emissions in 2008, with the majority originating from a handful of countries, in particular China (34.1 per cent of global SO2 emissions, or 54 per cent of those from the region), followed by India (7.3 per cent of global, 11.6 per cent of regional SO2 emissions) and the Russian Federation (5 per cent of global, 7.8 per cent of regional SO2 emissions).

The region accounts for about half of global emissions from agriculture.

Agriculture accounted for about 10 per cent to 12 per cent of total global anthropogenic GHG emissions in 2005.10 The main sources of emissions are crop and livestock production and management, and forestry and associated land use changes.

Figure F.1-8
Emissions from agriculture, Asia and the Pacific and rest of the world, 1990-2010

Figure F.1-8 Emissions from agriculture, Asia and the Pacific and rest of the world, 1990-2010 Globally, as well as in the Asian and Pacific region, GHG emissions from agriculture are dominated by non-CO2 gases such as CH4 and N2O, arising from crop and livestock production and management.

China and India have the highest emissions from agriculture in the region. Together they account for 54 per cent of the emissions in the region, or 27 per cent of total global emissions from agriculture.

Concentrations of particulate matter in the local atmospheres above cities in Asia and the Pacific exceed the maximum safety standard set by the World Health Organization

Figure F.1-9
Concentration of particulate matter in urban areas, Asia and the Pacific, 1990 and 2009

Figure F.1-9 Concentration of particulate matter in urban areas, Asia and the Pacific, 1990 and 2009One of the most problematic issues regarding local air pollution is the concentration of particulate matter (PM), as it tends to affect more people than other pollutants such as SO2. The particles are identified according to their aerodynamic diameter, as either PM10 (particles with a diameter smaller than 10 microns) or PM2.5 (particles with a diameter smaller than 2.5 microns). Although average concentrations of PM10 declined by 45 per cent between 1990 and 2009, concentrations are generally still much higher than the recommended World Health Organization standard (20 microns per m3, annual mean).11

The effects of particulate matter on health occur at levels of exposure currently being experienced by most urban and rural populations in both developed and developing countries in the region. Chronic exposure to particles contributes to the risk of developing cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, as well as lung cancer.12 Urban air pollution generated by vehicles, industries and energy production causes an estimated 800,000 premature deaths every year.13

Some 1.7 billion people in the Asian and Pacific region rely on dung, wood, crop waste or coal to meet their most basic energy needs.14 Cooking and heating with such solid fuels on open fires or stoves without chimneys leads to indoor air pollution. Globally, indoor air pollution is estimated to cause 36 per cent of all lower respiratory infections and 22 per cent of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Exposure is particularly high among women and children, who spend the most time near the domestic hearth.15

Further reading

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report, Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Geneva, 2008. Available from www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-Report/ar4/syr/ar4_syr.pdf.

International Energy Agency. CO2 Emissions from Fuel Combustion. Various years.

International Energy Agency. World Energy Outlook. Various years.

United Nations Environment Programme. Bridging the Emissions Gap: A UNEP Synthesis Report. 2011. Available from www.unep.org/pdf/UNEP_bridging_gap.pdf.

Technical notes

GHG emissions: total (million tons of CO2 equivalent, percentage change per annum, tons of CO2 equivalent per capita)
Total GHG emissions, expressed in million tons of CO2 equivalent, is calculated using the GWP100 established by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change under the Tier 1 Sectoral Approach of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. GHG emissions are composed of CO2 totals excluding short-cycle biomass burning (such as agricultural waste burning and Savannah burning but including other biomass burning such as forest fires, post-burn decay, peat fires and decay of drained peatlands), all anthropogenic CH4 sources, N2O sources and F-gases (HFCs, PFCs and SF6). CO2 equivalent is a measure used to compare different GHGs based on their contribution to radiative forcing. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change currently (2005) uses GWPs as factors to calculate CO2 equivalent. Indicator calculations: Percentage change in GHG emissions per annum and in a 10-year period. Per capita figures are based on population figures (WPP2012). Aggregate calculations: Sum of individual country values (million tons of CO2 equivalent); average annual growth of all country level values of total GHG emissions in million tons of CO2 equivalent of individual countries (percentage change per annum); weighted averages using total population (WPP2012) as weight (tons of CO2 equivalent per capita). Missing data are not imputed.

GHG intensity (GHG emissions in tons of CO2 equivalent per 1,000$ GDP)
GHG intensity of economy (or GHG per GDP) is a measure of GHG emissions per unit of economic output. The economic output is expressed as GDP in current United States dollars. Aggregate calculations: Weighted averages using current GDP in United States dollars. Missing data are not imputed.

CO2 emissions from fuel combustion (million tons of CO2, percentage change per annum, tons of CO2 equivalent per capita, grams per 1 dollar GDP in 2005 PPP)
Refers to emissions of CO2 from burning oil, coal and natural gas for energy use. Total CO2 emissions from fuel combustion as calculated using the Tier 1 Sectoral Approach of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Indicator calculations: Per capita figures are based on population figures (WPP2012). Per GDP figures are based on GDP in 2005 PPP (WDI). Aggregate calculations: Sum of individual country values (million tons of CO2); average annual growth of aggregate million ton values (percentage change per annum); weighted averages using total population or GDP in 2005 PPP as weight (tons of CO2 equivalent per capita, grams per 1 dollar GDP in 2005 PPP). Missing data are not imputed.

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from agriculture (thousand tons of CO2 equivalent)
Total greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture contain all the emissions produced in the different agricultural emissions sub-domains, providing a picture of the contribution to the total amount of GHG emissions from agriculture. GHG emissions from agriculture consist of non-CO2 gases, namely methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O), produced by crop and livestock production and management activities. Aggregate calculations: Sum of individual country values. Missing data are not imputed.

Methane (CH4) emissions from agriculture (Thousand tons of CO2 equivalent)
The release of methane (CH4) produced by crop and livestock production and management activities to the atmosphere over a specified area and period of time. Aggregate calculations: Sum of individual country values. Missing data are not imputed.

Nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from agriculture (Thousand tons of CO2 equivalent)
The release of nitrous oxide (N2O) produced by crop and livestock production and management activities to the atmosphere over a specified area and period of time. Aggregate calculations: Sum of individual country values. Missing data are not imputed.

Consumption of ozone-depleting substances (grams per capita, grams per 1,000 GDP in 2005 PPP)
Annual consumption in weighted tons of the individual substances in the group of ozonedepleting substances multiplied by their ozonedepleting potential. Ozone-depleting substances are those containing chlorine or bromine that destroy the stratospheric ozone layer. Indicator calculations: Per capita figures are based on population figures (WPP2012). Per 1,000 GDP in 2005 PPP are based on WDI figures. Aggregate calculations: Weighted averages using total population (grams per capita) and GDP in 2005 PPP (grams per 1,000 GDP in 2005 PPP) as weights. Missing data are not imputed.

CH4 emissions (thousand tons)
CH4 emissions are estimated using a model from the Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment by the following Emission Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR) divisions: energy, agriculture, waste and others. “Others” includes industrial process emissions, N2O usage, and tropical and temperate forest fires. Aggregate calculations: Sum of individual country values. Missing data are not imputed.

SO2 emissions (thousand tons)
SO2 emissions are estimated using a model from the Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment by the following EDGAR subdivisions: fuel combustion, biofuel combustion, fugitive, industry, solvent use, agriculture, waste and others. “Others” comprises tropical and temperate forest fires. Aggregate calculations: Sum of individual country values. Missing data are not imputed.

N2O emissions (thousand tons)
N2O emissions are estimated using a model from the Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment by the following EDGAR divisions: energy, agriculture, waste and others. “Others” includes industrial process emissions, N2O usage, and tropical and temperate forest fires. Aggregate calculations: Sum of individual country values. Missing data are not imputed.

Concentration of PM10 in urban areas (micrograms per m3)
Particulate matter concentrations refer to fine suspended particles with a diameter smaller than 10 microns (PM10) that can penetrate deeply into the respiratory tract and cause significant health damage. The estimates represent the average annual exposure level of the average urban resident to outdoor particulate matter. A country’s state of technology and pollution control is an important determinant of particulate matter concentrations. Aggregate calculations: Weighted averages using urban population (WPP2012) as weight. Missing data are not imputed.

Biochemical oxygen demand (tons per day)
Biochemical oxygen demand is a measure of the amount of oxygen consumed by bacteria in breaking down waste. Biochemical oxygen demand is a proxy measure for all types of industrial organic water pollutants.

Sources

Source of CO2 from fuel data: IEA, CO2 emissions by product and flow, IEA CO2 Emissions from Fuel Combustion Statistics database. Countries report to IEA through the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) member site and non- OECD government site. The IEA secretariat does not adjust the data. Data obtained: 7 June 2013.

Source of total GHGs emissions, SO2, N2O data: Emission Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR), a joint project of European Commission Joint Research Centre and Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency. Emissions data are compiled and published in EDGAR version 4.2 and are calculated by individual countries using country-specific information. Data obtained: 25 March 2013, except SO2 emissions: 30 August 2012.

Source of emissions from agriculture: FAOSTAT Emissions Agriculture database, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The FAOSTAT emissions data are estimates by FAO. Member countries report their emissions and are computed at Tier 1 following IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories. Data obtained: 26 March 2013.

Source of ozone data: Millennium Indicators Database. Countries that are party to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer report data annually to the secretariat using data reporting formats agreed by the parties. Data are usually reported by the ministry of environment or by designated authorities such as an environmental protection agency, an environmental management authority or a national ozone unit. Country data are not adjusted. WDI is the source for GDP in 2005 PPP. National accounts data are compiled by the World Bank using OECD national accounts. The World Bank makes some adjustments to the data. Data obtained: 12 March 2013

Source of PM10 and biochemical oxygen demand data: World Bank, WDI. Estimates from Kiran Dev Pandey and others, “Ambient particulate matter concentrations in residential and pollution hotspot areas of world cities: new estimates based on the Global Model of Ambient Particulates (GMAPS)”, World Bank Development Economics Research Group and Environment Department Working Paper (Washington, DC, World Bank, 2006). Data are provided by countries. Data obtained: 13 March 2013.

____________________
1 See http://unfccc.int/ghg_data/items/3825.php.
2 See http://www.worldenergyoutlook.org/publications/weo-2009/.
3 See www.globalcarbonproject.org/carbonbudget/12/hl-full.htm
4 See www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-22486153.
5 See www.iea.org/publications/scenariosandprojections/.
6 International Energy Agency, World Energy Outlook 2009 (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development/International Energy Agency, Paris, 2009). Available from www.worldenergyoutlook.org/publications/weo-2009/.
7 International Energy Agency, CO2 Emissions from Fuel Combustion: Highlights (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development/International Energy Agency, Paris, 2012). Available from www.iea.org/publications/freepublications/publication/name,32870,en.html.
8 Ibid.
9 International Energy Agency, World Energy Outlook 2012 (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development / International Energy Agency, Paris, 2012). Available from www.worldenergyoutlook.org/publications/weo-2012/.
10 See www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg3/en/ch8s8-es.html.
11 World Health Organization, Air Quality Guidelines: Global Update 2005 – Particulate Matter, Ozone, Nitrogen Dioxide and Sulphur Dioxide (2006). Available from www.who.int/phe/health_topics/outdoorair/outdoorair_aqg/en/index.html.
12 World Health Organization, “Air quality and health”, Fact Sheet No. 313 (September 2011). Available from www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs313/en/.
13 Jeff Kenworthy and Felix Laube, “Urban transport patterns in a global sample of cities and their linkages to transport infrastructure, land use, economics and environment”, World Transport Policy and Practice, vol. 8, No. 3 (2002), pp. 5-20.
14 World Health Organization, Air Pollution, proportion of population using solid fuels, Millennium Indicators Database. Available from http:// mdgs.un.org/unsd/mdg/SeriesDetail.aspx?srid=712.
15 World Health Organization, World Health Report 2002: Reducing Risks, Promoting Healthy Life (Geneva, 2002). Available from www.who.int/whr/2002/en/.
 
 
Statistics Home Statistics Home
Statistics Home Statistical Yearbook for Asia and the Pacific 2013
Did you know?
Download chapterPDF format
Data tables Data tables
Table F.1.1 Greenhouse gas emissions
Excel format
Table F.1.2 Carbon dioxide intensities
Excel format
Table F.1.3 Greenhouse gases emissions from agriculture
Excel format
Table F.1.4 Other pollutants
Excel format
Online Database Home Online database
 Country profiles Home Data visualization: time-series (1990-2012)
 Country profiles Home Data visualization: selected demographic indicators (1980-2050)
Online Database Home Media coverage
Readership Questionnaire
Download previous version
ESCAP SYB2011 (9.2MB)
ESCAP SYB2009 (4.3MB)
ESCAP SYB2008 (2.8MB)
ESCAP SYB2007 (2.3MB)
Statistical publications
Contact us