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World’s Top Polluters Skip United Nations’ Climate Summit

Image: File photo shows a street lamp in front of Datong's second coal-fired power plant at night on the outskirts of Datong, Shanxi province

World carbon dioxide emissions will hit a record high this year, driven by China's growth and keeping the world far off track from the deep cuts needed to limit climate change, the Global Carbon Project report by leading research institutes said on September 21, 2014. JASON LEE / Reuters

This is a big week for climate change action, but not big enough.

The good news: On Sunday, hundreds of thousands of people showed up for the People's Climate March in New York City. It was the biggest climate protest in history, and while it was going on, several other world cities, including London, Paris, and Rio de Janeiro, held their own marches. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was at the New York march, as well as Vice President Al Gore, several US senators, and plenty of celebrities.

People Fill New York Streets for Climate March 0:25

On Tuesday, Ban will host 120 world leaders, including US President Barack Obama, at the United Nations Climate Summit. The summit is a warm-up for the UN climate negotiations that will take place at the end of this year in Lima, Peru and that will culminate in a global climate agreement next year in Paris.

The bad news: While some world leaders will spend time at the UN summit discussing how to prevent the human species from hastening its own demise, the countries most responsible for climate change aren't bothering to show up. Of the five worst carbon emitting nations, China (1), India (3), Russia (4), and Japan (5) are all skipping. (Most nations are sending heads-of-state and/or foreign ministers, but China and India are sending low-level representatives.)

Image: File photo shows vehicles driving on the Third Ring Road on a very hazy winter day in Beijing
Vehicles drive on the Third Ring Road on a very hazy winter day in Beijing in this January 12, 2013 file photo. World carbon dioxide emissions will hit a record high this year, driven by China's growth and keeping the world far off track from the deep cuts needed to limit climate change, the Global Carbon Project report by leading research institutes said on September 21, 2014. JASON LEE / Reuters

As the UN sets to discuss a climate crisis without the parties creating the crisis, some new climate numbers came out that show just how bad the crisis is. The information was published by the Global Carbon Project.

It's not good.

In 2013, burning fossil fuels led to the emission of 38.9 billion tons of carbon dioxide. It was a new annual record. (Congrats, humans!) We burned 2.3 percent more than we did in 2012 and we're on pace to hit 40 billion tons in 2014.

Terrifying detail: That's 65 percent more carbon than we emitted in 1990.

The top three polluters are all getting worse. China's emissions grew 4.2 percent. India: 5.1 percent. US: 2.9 percent.

Top polluters also account for the vast majority of overall carbon emissions. China (29 percent), US (15 percent), India (7.1 percent), Russia (5.3 percent), and Japan (3.7 percent) were collectively responsible for 60 percent of the world's carbon emissions in 2013.

At Tuesday's UN summit, 45.1 percent of those emissions will be unaccounted for.

If that's not dark enough for you, check out the new study in the Journal of Climate about "megadroughts."

Yes, that's right. Megadroughts.

Image:
Four of the five worst carbon polluting nations, including India, are effectively skipping this week's UN Climate Summit. Most nations are sending heads-of-state and/or foreign ministers, but China and India are sending low-level representatives. Rafiq Maqbool / AP

This story first appeared in GlobalPost.

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