Climate change progress falters as global emissions set record – USA TODAY
- In about nine years, the world is on track to blow past the maximum amount of CO2 it can burn to keep temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, a new report found.
- Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the Earth’s temperature has already risen 1.1° C.
- Total fossil carbon dioxide emissions are expected to grow about 1% in 2022.
The world is increasingly in agreement that climate change is real, dangerous and happening now – but that hasn’t yet translated into a global decrease in greenhouse gas emissions.
Total fossil carbon dioxide emissions are expected to grow about 1% in 2022, a November report by Global Carbon Project published in the journal Earth System Science Data found. It’s being released in Egypt at the COP27 global climate change meeting.
The report projects a record amount of carbon dioxide will be released into the atmosphere this year: 36.6 billion tons from burning coal, oil and natural gas.
At that rate, in nine years the world is on track to blow past the maximum amount of CO2 it can burn to keep temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, which is 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit.
“It is a stark reminder that despite all this rhetoric, global fossil CO2 emissions are more than 5% higher than in 2015, the year of the Paris Agreement,” said Glen Peters, a research director at the Center for International Climate Research.
Here’s what you need to know:
Why are carbon dioxide emissions still increasing?
The world is working to pivot to carbon-free energy sources like wind, solar and nuclear, but it isn’t moving fast enough to keep up with rising energy demands.
Why do CO2 emissions need to drop?
Greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane lock heat into the atmosphere. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the earth’s temperature has already risen 2 degrees.
To avoid catastrophic climate effects, that rise needs stay below 2.7 degrees, a number the world’s nations – including the United States – have agreed upon. The Global Carbon Project estimates that if CO2 emissions continue at this year’s level, the world will likely use up its “carbon budget” by 2032.
What countries are emitting the most?
Three countries account for the lion’s share of global CO2 emissions. China is highest, at 32%, though that’s begun to fall slightly. The United States is next with 14%, an increase of 1.5% over last year. India’s emissions continue to rise and now make up 8% of the global total. Together, the 27 nations of the European Union account for 8%.
China’s emissions are declining
For the first time since the economic slowdown of 2015-2016, China’s CO2 emissions were anticipated to decline, falling slightly less than 1% in 2022. This is happening for two reasons:
- China’s economy has been hard-hit by the nation’s rigid COVID-19 lockdown policy, which has impacted growth.
- China’s renewable energy sector is growing rapidly. In 2022 for the first time wind and solar produced more than 10% of the country’s electricity.
US makes an important methane pledge
At COP27 in Egypt, the United States announced Friday that it would make oil and gas companies quickly deal with methane leaks, a potent greenhouse gas that traps 80 times more heat than carbon dioxide and is responsible for one-third of the warming from greenhouse gases today. Because it only stays in the atmosphere for 20 years, cutting methane leaks now will have an immediate effect on preventing warming.