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Risk of Increasing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

by mrzee


In the fast moving and independent world, institutions are increasingly being confronted with risks that are very complex in nature and global in consequence. Therefore, leaders from the public and private sectors need an independent platform to monitor and mitigate the global risks. The world is more at risk due to the persistent economic weaknesses which sap out ability address environmental challenges (World Economic Forum, 2013).

 The report presented by the WEF pointed out that severe income disparity and chronic fiscal imbalances are regarded as the two top most prevalent global risks. The other risks that are regarded as having more gravity include global governance failure, unsustainable population growth, and rising green house emissions (Barnett & Adger, 2003). The paper discusses the risk of increasing greenhouse emissions. Global warming comes about as result green house emissions leading to the greenhouse effect. The burning of fossil fuels and extensive clearing of forests has led to a 40% increase in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide from 280 to 392.6 parts per million in 2012 (CDIAC, 2012). Developing nations have been found to have higher percentages of greenhouse emissions compared to the developed countries. The increase of greenhouse gases is a result of human activities such as forest degradation and burning of fossil fuels.

Risk of Increasing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Main Overview

There is growing recognition that there are over 50 global risks are classified into five main categories: (1) geopolitical: global governance failure (2) societal: unsustainable population growth, ineffective drug policies (3) technological: critical systems failure (4) economic: chronic fiscal imbalances, major systematic financial failure (5) environmental: greenhouse gas emissions (Howel 2013:54-55).

The rising green house emissions risk fall under the environmental category. The rising green house emissions are a threat to the world regarding the gravity of its consequences. Greenhouse gases consist of those gases that emit and absorb infrared radiation, excluding the radiation in near or visible spectrum (Pandey, 2007). In order of abundance they include: Water vapor, carbon (IV) oxide, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone, and chloro floro carbons (CFCs). The main source of green house gases is carbon dioxide. The following fuels natural gases, liquefied petroleum gas, automobile gasoline, kerosene, wood and wood waste, and coal if combusted produce a lot greenhouse gases too (Dijk et al. 2012:110-115).

 Carbon dioxide (CO2) is viewed to the most vital atmospheric greenhouse, since it is the only gas in the atmosphere that affects the earth’s heat exchange. Methane, nitrous oxide, and CFCs are effective infrared absorbers. However, considering the fact these gases are added to the earth through human activities and natural processes, since the Industrial Revolution the concentrations of these greenhouse gases have been increasing at a steady rate (Tremblay, Varfalvy & Roehm 2011:35).  Since 1971 the global carbon dioxide emissions have risen by 99 percent, or an average of 2.0 % per year (United Nations Environmental Program 2012).  Currently, the stock of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased by more than 3 million tones annually at rate of 0.04 percent as compared to the existing stock. This gradual increase of greenhouse emissions is as result of human activities including combustion of fossil fuels, deforestation and degradation of forests (Vendramin 2007:20-21).

The rising greenhouse emissions lead to the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect is influenced by the abundance and characteristics of the gas, and any direct impacts it may have. Therefore, if the world does not scale up and accelerate action on climate change without delay, the greenhouse emissions would escalate to 58 gigatonnes by 2020. This is way above what scientists are proposing to be in line with the chance of keeping the world’s temperature rise below 20 C this century thus leading to global warming (Kennedy et. al 2009:7297). These rising greenhouse emissions are a main cause of global warming, thus portraying that nations are contributing most to the human-triggered climate change.  Vendramin (2007:22) concluded that increase in greenhouse gas concentrations is very likely to cause an increase in the global average temperatures. However, a report by Emissions Gap Report 2012 found that over the past 15 years air temperatures on planet earth have been flat whilst greenhouse gases continued to escalate rapidly. The world has added an estimated 100 billion tones of carbon to the atmosphere from 2000 to 2010. This is actually a quarter of the carbon dioxide released by humanity ever since 1750 (UNEP 2012).  Loon (2013) points out that the increase in carbon (iv) emissions it is predicted that the concentrations in the atmosphere will reach double levels by the year 2100. Canada is the world’s seventh emitter of greenhouse gases. Currently, if measures are not enacted to curb carbon output, these emissions will escalate to from 701 megatonnes in 2011 to 734 megatonnes in 2020.

Global warming which is as a result of greenhouse emissions of gases is brought about by human activity, which include (1) burning of fossil fuels and deforestation (2) livestock enteric fermentation and manure management, land use and wetland changes (3) utilization of CFCs in the refrigeration systems, and halons in the fire fighting equipments (4) agricultural activities including use of fertilizers that lead to higher concentrations of nitrous oxide (Pandey 2007: 125). Due to its sheer abundance as compared to the other greenhouse gases, CO2 is considered as the most crucial anthropogenic gas. Its core source is the burning fossil fuels, via land use practices like deforestation. Similarly, it is crucial to note that the global CO2 levels and average air temperatures are actually positively correlated (Energy Intelligence Group 2002). However, Lattanzio (2013) notes that while Canada utilizes new technology to subdue the per-barrel emissions from the oil sands operations to reduce carbon output  rises, Japan, the fifth largest carbon polluter announced its pledge to reduce greenhouse gases by 25% of 1990 levels by the year 2020.


In brief, lowering greenhouse gas pollution in order to impede global change is the most apparent and one of the most important problems affecting the international population at present. Vendramin (2007:22) states that we need to take forward the task of creating a trusted network of risk experts to assist in monitoring, mitigating and improving resilience to global risks, such as rising green house gases so as to reduce the incidences of global warming. It is increasingly urgent to regulate the emission of greenhouse gases. According to UNEP (2012) the rising greenhouse emissions can be reduced through various ways. First, there is need for aspiring actions to occur at the national level on energy efficiency in buildings. Secondly, is investing in forests in order to avoid emissions associated with deforestation. There should be policies that help in reducing deforestation and, thus reducing greenhouse emissions such as taxes and payments to ecosystem services. Thirdly, Parker (2011) emphasizes the need to come up with policies that advocate for sustainable transportation, for example use of bicycles, setting up of new vehicle emissions and walking.

The Theory Grid on Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

Summary: World faced with numerous global risks (World Economic Forum, 2013). Global warming comes about as result green house emissions (CDIAC, 2012).Risks categories: geopolitical, societal, economic, technological, and environmental (Howel 2013:54-55).Effects of increasing greenhouse emissions and how to alleviate the rising greenhouse emissions. (Vendramin 2007:20-21).
Main overview: Arguments against; definition of greenhouse gases as an environmental risk (Pandey, 2007). Greenhouse gases and how they result to greenhouse effect (Pandey, 2007). Greenhouse gases increasing at a steady rate (Tremblay, Varfalvy & Roehm, 2011:35).  Greenhouse effect and global warming (Kennedy et. al 2009:7297). CO2 levels to double by 2100 (Loon 2013). Human activities that bring about greenhouse emissions which lead to warming (Pandey, 2007). Increased CO2 emission levels and average air temperature (EIG, 2002).
Main overview: Arguments for; Sources of greenhouse gases, some are essential human activities (Dijk et al., 2012:110-115). Increasing CO2 due to human activities (Vendramin 2007:20-21). Emissions Gap Report 2012 found that over the past 15 years air temperatures on planet earth have been flat (UNEP 2012). Measures taken to limit greenhouse emissions, for example Canada the oil industry utilizes new technology to subdue the per-barrel emissions from the oil sands and Japan’s pledge to reduce greenhouse emissions (Lattanzio, 2013).
Conclusion: Importance of risk experts to assist in mapping, monitoring, and mitigating, as well as improving the resilience to global risks, such as rising greenhouse gases (Vendramin 2007:22). Reduction of greenhouse gases emission (UNEP 2012): (1) Aspiring actions to occur at the national level on energy efficient buildings. (2) Investing in forests in order to avoid emissions associated with deforestation. (3) Parker (2011) emphasizes that there is need to come up with policies that advocate for sustainable transportation.
Reference List:
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  • CDIAC. (2012). Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC). Tennessee: Oak Ridge.
  • Dijk, P. V., Zhang, J., Jun, W., C.Kuenzer, & Wolf, K. (2012). Assessment of the contribution of in-situ combustion of coal to greenhouse gas emission; based on a comparison of Chinese mining information to previous remote sensing estimates. International Journal of Coal Geology , 86 (1), 108-119.
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  • Howel, L. (2013). World Economic Forum: Global Risks 2013. Geneva: World Economic Forum.
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  • Lattanzio, R. (2013). Canadian Oil Sands: Life-Cycle Assessments of Greenhouse Emissions. Montreal: Congressional Research Service.
  • Loon, J. V. (2013, October 24). Retrieved from Canada Greenhouse Gas Emissions Set to Rise, Government Says: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-10-24/canada-greenhouse-gas-emissions-set-to-rise-government-says.html [November 12, 2013]
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  • United Nations Environmental Program. (2012, November 21). Retrieved from Greenhouse gas emissions gap widening as nations head to crucial climate talks in Doha: http://www.unep.org/newscentre/default.aspx?DocumentID=2698&ArticleID=9335 [November 12, 2013]
  • Vendramin, M. (2007). Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Slovenian Economic Mirror , 13 (6), 22.
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