DEC 02, 2022 8:03 AM PST

CO2 Levels Show No Sign of Slowing Down

WRITTEN BY: Hannah Daniel

Global carbon emissions show no sign of slowing down despite a need to stay below 1.5°C of total warming, an article from Earth Systems Science Data reports.

If the Earth warms up by 1.5°C (or 2.7°F), the Earth will experience extreme heatwaves, rising oceans, and the death of 70-90% of the world’s coral reefs. However, if emissions levels keep their current pace, there is a 50% chance we could reach that in just nine years.

The Global Carbon Budget 2022 report, led by Global Systems Institute professor Pierre Friedlingstein, was published this month and sheds light on the grim news that we are nowhere near where we need to be concerning slowing down carbon emissions. The report predicts that total CO2 emissions will reach 40.6 billion tons (GtCO2), close to the 2019 amount of 40.9 GtCO2, the highest total on record.

Oil and coal emissions are the most significant contributor to this year’s emissions, with the rebound of international flights post lockdowns causing oil to make up the largest portion.

Land use, such as deforestation, contributed 3.9 GtCO2. This was about 10% of all total emissions, with just three countries, Brazil, Indonesia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, contributing 58%.

Emissions increased globally by 1.7%. By country, the United States increased emissions by 1.5% and India by 6%. China and the European Union decreased their emissions by 0.9% and 0.8%, respectively.

To not hit this devastating level of warming, the world needs to achieve net zero CO2 emissions by 2050. This would require a decrease of 1.4 GtCO2, which was approximately the decline seen during Fall 2020 COVID lockdowns.

On a slightly positive note, the long-term rate of carbon emissions has slowed down, 0.5% per year over the past decade versus 3% in the 2000s (the peak of emission increase).

Royal Society Professor at the University of East Anglia and report author Corinne Le Quéré stressed the urgency of the moment.

“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,” he said.

Sources: EurekaAlert, Earth System Science Data, World Meteorological Organization

About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Hannah Daniel (she/they) is a recent graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, where she received a Bachelor of Science in Biology with an additional minor in Creative Writing. Currently, she works as a reporter for Informa Intelligence's Medtech Insight publication, a business newsletter detailing the latest innovations and regulations in the medical device industry.
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