[UPDATE: Added 2013 numbers. –Des]
5 April 2015 (Desdemona Despair) – Recently, there’s been discussion about a possible decoupling between global financial growth and carbon dioxide emissions, so Desdemona decided to check in on recent CO2 emission data. The Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC) maintains a database of fossil-fuel CO2 emissions, which has been updated with preliminary data to 2012.
It turns out that the growth of human carbon emissions is pretty close to exponential, with an R2 value of 0.988 for the default Excel curve fit. The spike in emissions from coal that starts around 2002 is the biggest contributor to recent total emissions. Given the persistence of the exponential growth over the past two centuries, it seems unlikely that anything in the foreseeable future will bend the curve downward.
You can get the data and related graphs here: Global CO2 Emissions 1751-2010 CDIAC.xlsx.