BANGKOK, Oct 6, 2009 (AFP) - Carbon dioxide emissions, the main driver of global warming, could fall three percent worldwide in 2009 due to the global economic crisis, the International Energy Agency said Tuesday.
This would be the steepest drop in CO2 emissions for 40 years, chief IEA economist Fatih Birol said at a press conference in Bangkok, adding that the average annual growth in global carbon output until now has been three percent.
Birol said this silver-lining drop in carbon pollution was a "unique window opportunity" for the the world to put itself on a path to limit the increase in global temperatures to two degrees celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), the scientific threshold for dangerous global warming.
The recession-driven fall would lead to CO2 emissions in 2020 being five percent lower that the IEA forecast from just a year ago, even if no action is taken to curb global warming, he added.
The IEA estimate is part of its World Energy Outlook report, an excerpt of which was released at UN climate talks underway in the Thai capital.
It outlined how steeply countries would have to cut their carbon emissions over the next 20 years in order fix the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere at a level that would ensure the two degree threshold is not crossed.
"This gives us a chance to make real progress toward a clean energy future, but only if the right policies are put in place promptly," IEA Executive Director Nobuo Tanaka said in a statement.