Carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels, the main driver of climate change, are expected to rise by 1% in 2022 to reach a record high, scientists said Friday at the COP27 climate summit in Egypt.
Emissions from oil, fueled by the continued rebound in aviation, are likely to rise more than 2% from a year ago, while emissions from coal – which some thought peaked in 2014 – would hit a new record high.
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“Oil is more driven by the post-Covid recovery, and coal and gas are more driven by events in Ukraine,” Glen Peters, research director at the climate research institute, told AFP. CICERO in Norway.
Global CO2 emissions from all sources – including deforestation and land use – will reach 40.6 billion tonnes, just below the record level of 2019, according to the first peer-reviewed projections for 2022.
Despite pandemic recovery wildcards and a war-induced energy crisis in Ukraine, rising carbon pollution from burning oil, gas and coal is consistent with underlying trends, the data suggests.
And deeply worrying, said Peters, co-author of the study.
“Emissions are now five percent higher than when the Paris Agreement was signed” in 2015, he noted.
“You have to ask: when are they going down? /- Carbon budget -/The new figures show how difficult it will be to cut emissions fast enough to meet the Paris target of capping global warming at 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
Heating beyond this threshold, scientists warn, risks triggering dangerous tipping points in the climate system.
Just 1.2°C of warming so far has sparked a crescendo of deadly and costly extreme weather, ranging from heatwaves and droughts to floods and tropical storms made more destructive by rising seas.
To meet the ambitious Paris target, global greenhouse gas emissions must fall by 45% by 2030 and be brought to net zero by mid-century, with any remaining emissions offset by eliminating CO2 from the atmosphere.
To be on track for a net zero world, emissions would need to fall by 7% per year over the next eight years.
To put that into perspective: in 2020, with much of the global economy in lockdown, emissions have only fallen by 6%.
Over a longer period, the annual increase in CO2 from fossil fuel use has slowed, on average, to 0.5% per year over the past decade after increasing by 3% per year from 2000 to 2010.
To have a one in two chance of staying below the 1.5°C limit, humanity’s emissions quota is 380 billion tonnes of CO2, according to the study in Earth System Science Data, authored by more than 100 scientists.
On current emission trends of 40 billion tonnes per year, this “carbon budget” would be exhausted in less than a decade.
For a two-thirds chance, the budget shrivels up by a quarter and would be exhausted in seven years.
/- ‘Deeply depressing’ -/Over the past few decades, scientists have generally been able to draw a straight line between CO2 trends and the economy of China, which has been the world’s top carbon polluter for about 15 years.
In 2022, however, China’s CO2 output is expected to fall nearly one percent for the year, almost certainly reflecting an economic slowdown related to Beijing’s strict zero covid policy.
Despite having to scramble to find other energy sources, including carbon-intensive coal, the European Union is on track to see its emissions fall by almost as much, 0.8%.
US emissions are likely to increase by 1.5% and India’s by 6%.
The annual update also revealed that the ability of oceans, forests and soils to continue absorbing more than half of CO2 emissions has slowed.
“These ‘sinks’ are weaker than they would be without the impacts of climate change,” said co-author Corinne Le Quere, a professor at the University of East Anglia.
Scientists not involved in the findings said they were grim.
“The global carbon budget for 2022 is deeply depressing,” said Mark Maslin, professor of climatology at University College London.
“To have a chance of staying below the international global warming target of 1.5C, we need to make big annual emission cuts, of which there is no sign.”