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Global CO2 emissions hit record levels in 2022

According to this year’s Global Carbon Budget report, global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and cement have increased by one percent in 2022, hitting a new record high of 36.6 billion tons.

The experts found that the current rise in fossil fuel emissions has been mainly driven by a strong increase in oil emissions as the travel industry has started to recover after the Covid-19 pandemic. Although coal and gas emissions grew more slowly, they both had record emissions too in 2022.

Moreover, the scientists warned that, if global emissions remain at current levels, the remaining carbon budget maintaining global warming below 1.5°C will be gone in roughly nine years. 

“This year we see yet another rise in global fossil CO2 emissions, when we need a rapid decline,” said report lead author Pierre Friedlingstein, an expert in the Mathematical Modelling of the Climate System at the University of Exeter. “There are some positive signs, but leaders meeting at COP27 will have to take meaningful action if we are to have any chance of limiting global warming close to 1.3°F (1.5°C). The Global Carbon Budget numbers monitor the progress on climate action and right now we are not seeing the action required.”

The researchers estimate that total global carbon dioxide emissions will reach 40.6 billion tons by the end of the year, which is not far from the highest annual total ever recorded (40.9 billion tons in 2021). While emissions in China and the European Union are expected to decrease by 0.9 and 0.8 percent, respectively, those from India and the United States will rise by 6 and 1.5 percent.

In order to reach zero net emissions by 2050, a decrease of 1.4 billion tons of CO2 is needed annually, which is the equivalent of the observed emissions fall in 2020 as a result of the worldwide Covid-related lockdowns.

 “Our findings reveal turbulence in emissions patterns this year resulting from the pandemic and global energy crises,” said co-author Corinne Le Quéré, a research professor of Climate Change Science at the University of East Anglia.

“If governments respond by turbo charging clean energy investments and planting, not cutting, trees, global emissions could rapidly start to fall. We are at a turning point and must not allow world events to distract us from the urgent and sustained need to cut our emissions to stabilize the global climate and reduce cascading risks,” she concluded.

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By Andrei Ionescu, Staff Writer

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