Working Group I: The Scientific Basis


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3.4 Anthropogenic Sources of CO2 3.4.1 Emissions from Fossil Fuel Burning and Cement Production

Current anthropogenic emissions of CO2 are primarily the result of the consumption of energy from fossil fuels. Estimates of annual global emissions from fossil fuel burning and cement production have been made for the period from 1751 through 1999. Figure 3.3 summarises emissions over the period from 1959 to 1999 (Keeling and Whorf, 2000).

Estimates of annual global emissions from fossil fuel burning and cement production by Marland et al. (2000) span the period from 1751 through to 1997, reaching a maximum in 1997 of 6.6 PgC/yr (0.2 PgC/yr of this was from cement production). The primary data for these estimates are annual energy statistics compiled by the United Nations (2000). Emissions for 1998 and 1999 have been estimated based on energy statistics compiled by British Petroleum (2000). Emission factors (IPCC, 1997) were applied to consumption statistics (British Petroleum, 2000) to calculate emissions over the period 1990 to 1999. Emissions were then scaled to match the estimates for emissions from fossil fuel burning and cement production from Marland et al. (2000) over the overlap period from 1990 to 1997. The scaled emission estimates, therefore, implicitly include emissions from cement production.

The average value of emissions for the 1980s given by Marland et al. (2000) is 5.44 ± 0.3 PgC/yr, revised from the earlier estimate (Marland et al. 1994; Andres et al. 2000) of 5.46 ± 0.3 PgC/yr used in the SAR and in the Special Report on Radiative Forcing (IPCC, 1994) (hereafter SRRF). Estimated emissions rose from 6.1 PgC/yr in 1990 to 6.5 PgC/yr in 1999. The average value of emissions in the 1990s was 6.3 ± 0.4 PgC/yr.

3.4.2 Consequences of Land-use Change

About 10 to 30% of the current total anthropogenic emissions of CO2 are estimated to be caused by land-use conversion. Such estimates rely on land cover data sets which are highly variable, and estimates of average carbon density of vegetation types, which are also highly variable with stand age and local conditions (see Box 3.1). Hence they cannot be specified as accurately as is possible for fossil fuel emissions. Historical emissions are treated in Section 3.2.2.2; this section focuses on the contemporary situation.

Net land-use flux, comprising the balance of positive terms due to deforestation and negative terms due to regrowth on abandoned agricultural land, has been estimated based on land-use statistics and simple models of rates of decomposition and regrowth, excluding possible climate, CO2 and N fertilisation effects (Houghton, 1999). Not all land-use emissions are included, for example mining of peatlands. The analysis of Houghton (1999) indicated that the net flux due to land-use change was 2.0 ± 0.8 PgC/yr during the 1980s, almost entirely due to deforestation of tropical regions. Temperate forests were found to show an approximate balance between carbon uptake in regrowing forests and carbon lost in oxidation of wood products, except in Europe, which showed a small net accumulation. The estimate of 2.0 PgC/yr is somewhat higher than Houghton and Hacklerís (1995) earlier estimate of 1.6 PgC/yr for the same period, which was used in the SAR, because of a reanalysis of data from tropical Asia (Houghton and Hackler, 1999). However, other recent analyses by the same authors reduce the estimated emissions from the Brazilian Amazon by half (Houghton et al., 2000), and point to other previously unaccounted for sinks of carbon in the USA such as fire suppression and woody encroachment, and changes in the management of agricultural soils (Houghton et al., 1999). Consideration of these additional studies brings the overall total back down to 1.7 ± 0.8 PgC/yr (Houghton, 2000), as given in the SRLULUCF.

An independent analysis (see Section 3.6.2.2) by the Carbon Cycle Model Linkage Project (CCMLP) also calculated the marginal effects of land-use changes on the global terrestrial carbon budget (McGuire et al., 2001). Land-use change data (conversions between native vegetation and crops) were derived from Ramankutty and Foley (2000). The estimates obtained for net land-use flux during the 1980s were between 0.6 and 1.0 PgC/yr, i.e., substantially smaller than the fluxes calculated by Houghton (1999). The reasons for this discrepancy are unclear. The CCMLP estimates may be too low because they neglected conversions to pasture. However, data presented in Houghton (1999) indicate that the main changes during recent decades were due to land conversion for crops. A more important difference may lie in the timing of deforestation in different regions in the tropics, where Ramankutty and Foley (2000) show higher overall rates in the 1970s and lower rates in the 1980s than Houghton does (1999).

Another analysis calculated a substantially higher net source due to land-use change in the tropics of 2.4 ± 1.0 PgC/yr during the 1980s (Fearnside, 2000). This analysis did not deal with temperate regions, and is not used in the global budget estimates.
No complete global assessment of deforestation effects covering the 1990s is available. Rates of deforestation appear to be declining. The FAO (1997) tropical forest assessment reported annual losses of 15.5x106 ha in the 1980s, and 13.7x106 ha in 1990 to 1995. Independent studies show a significant decline in deforestation rates in the Amazon region (Skole and Tucker, 1993; Fearnside, 2000). The annual flux of carbon from land-use change for the period from 1990 to 1995 has been estimated to be 1.6 PgC/yr from 1990 to 1995, consisting of a source of 1.7 PgC/yr in the tropics and a small sink in temperate and boreal areas (Houghton, 2000).


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