In a concerning revelation, experts predict that global emissions of carbon dioxide are on track to rise by approximately one percent, setting a new record in 2023.
This alarming insight is the conclusion of a preliminary study led by Glen Peters, an expert in the Centre for International Climate Research (CICERO) in Norway.
With the impending threat of catastrophic climate impacts, experts contend that carbon emissions need to be slashed almost by half within this decade in order to meet global targets. These goals are geared towards curbing global warming and preventing dire consequences for the environment.
Carbon dioxide pollution is a primary contributor to the greenhouse effect, the process through which heat is trapped near Earth’s surface, which leads to global warming.
When human activities (such as burning fossil fuels) release CO2 emissions, these gases trap heat from the sun’s rays inside the atmosphere.
The trapped heat drives an increase in global temperatures, which triggers a cascade of impacts that are not yet fully understood. Some of the initial consequences include melting ice caps and glaciers, more frequent and severe weather events, changing precipitation patterns, and rising sea levels.
While Peters suggests that the best scenario would be a decline in global CO2 emissions by five percent this year, his study paints a starkly different picture. According to the research, instead of witnessing a decline, the most likely scenario for 2023 is an increase in emissions ranging from 0.5 percent to 1.5 percent.
The current trajectory of rising emissions poses a massive challenge to the objectives outlined in the Paris Agreement. This international treaty aims to restrict global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
Exceeding the target limit could trigger global climate tipping points, a possible outcome that is cause for grave concern. “Each year that emissions keep rising makes it all the harder to reach pathways consistent with Paris,” said Peters.
The final analysis will be published in December, as world leaders meet in the United Arab Emirates for the UN climate change conference (COP28).
Of the four paradigm shifts that will be prioritized at COP28, the first is slashing emissions by 2030. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and UAE Special Envoy for Climate Change, has been appointed to serve as COP 28 the President-Designate.
In a letter to colleagues, Al Jaber states: “The world must urgently accelerate the energy transition in an orderly, just and equitable way that accounts for energy security and ensures that finance and technology is available for developing countries to implement the transition.”
“All countries will need to act, all elements of the energy system will need to be addressed, and we must have an honest conversation about what it will take to deliver a responsible and just transition that empowers climate-positive development everywhere, in particular across the Global South.”
Earlier in the year, the International Energy Agency (IEA) reported an expected peak in global demand for fossil fuels such as oil, gas, and coal within this decade. This forecast was attributed to the exponential growth in cleaner energy technologies and the rise of electric cars.
However, the IEA also raised concerns regarding increased investments in fossil fuels and persistently high emissions, especially in the backdrop of the post-pandemic economic surge and the energy crisis precipitated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Peters commented on the lack of significant progress in transitioning to clean energy. He recalled that scientists were optimistic in 2015, hoping that emission levels might peak.
“Yet, here we are again, with a new peak in 2022, and yet another peak expected again in 2023,” said Peters. “My concern is that we are doing half the job, growing clean energy, and not doing the other half of the job, transitioning away from fossil fuels.”
The Global Carbon Budget report for 2023 will be published in December. It will reveal CO2 emissions from all sources, with calculations based on data from IEA reports.
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