For 2010, emissions are likely to resume their upward track, scaling a new peak, they warned.
Annual emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the burning of oil, gas and coal were 30.8 billion tonnes, a retreat of only 1.3 percent in 2009 compared with 2008, a record year, they said in a letter to the journal Nature Geoscience.
The global decrease was less than half that had been expected, because emerging giant economies were unaffected by the downturn that hit many large industrialised nations.
In addition, they burned more coal, the biggest source of fossil-fuel carbon, while their economies struggled with a higher "carbon intensity," a measure of fuel-efficiency.
Emissions of fossil-fuel gases in 2009 fell by 11.8 percent in Japan, by 6.9 percent in the United States, by 8.6 percent in Britain, by seven percent in Germany and by 8.4 percent in Russia, the paper said.
In contrast, they rose by eight percent in China, by 6.2 percent in India and 1.4 percent in South Korea.
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