Despite repeated climate warnings, global CO2 emissions are still at record levels. There are only a few more years left for an effective intervention. According to the scientific team of the Global Carbon Project, global carbon emissions in 2022 remain at record levels and show no sign of decreasing, as is urgently needed to limit warming to 1.5 ° C. The data comes as world leaders gather at COP27 in Egypt to discuss the climate crisis.
If current emission levels persist, there is a 50% chance that global warming of 1.5 ° C will be exceeded in nine years.
The new report predicts global CO2 emissions of 40.6 billion tonnes (GtCO2) in 2022. This figure is fueled by CO2 emissions from fossil sources which are projected to increase by 1.0% compared to 2021. reaching 36.6 GtCO2 – slightly above pre-COVID-19 2019 levels. Emissions from land use change (such as deforestation) are projected at 3.9 GtCO2 in 2022.
Projected emissions from coal and oil are above 2021 levels, with oil contributing most to the growth in total emissions. The rise in oil emissions is largely explained by the delayed resumption of international flights following restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The picture of 2022 among the main emitters is heterogeneous: emissions are expected to decline in China (0.9%) and the EU (0.8%), an increase in the United States (1.5%) and India (6%) and an increase of 1.7% in the rest of the world.
The remaining carbon budget for a 50% chance of limiting global warming to 1.5 ° C shrank to 380 GtCO2 (exceeded after nine years if emissions remain at 2022 levels) and 1230 GtCO2 to limit to 2 ° C (30 years at 2022 emissions levels).
The required action is the same as during the lockdown
To achieve zero CO2 emissions by 2050, a decrease of around 1.4 GtCO2 each year would now be required, comparable to the observed decline in 2020 emissions resulting from the COVID-19 blockades, highlighting the extent of the action required.
The land and ocean, which absorb and store carbon, continue to absorb about half of the CO2 emissions. Oceanic and terrestrial CO2 sinks continue to increase in response to the increase in atmospheric CO2, although climate change has reduced this growth by approximately 4% (ocean sink) and 17% (land sink) in the decade 2012-2021 .
This year’s carbon balance shows that the long-term growth rate of fossil emissions has slowed. The average increase reached a peak of + 3% per year in the 2000s, while in the last decade the growth was about + 0.5% per year.
The research team – which includes the University of Exeter, the University of East Anglia (UEA), CICERO and the Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich – welcomed this slowdown, but said it is “Far from the reduction of emissions that we need”.
“This year we are witnessing yet another increase in global fossil CO2 emissions, while we need a rapid decrease – said Professor Pierre Friedlingstein, of the University of Munich -. “There are some positive signs, but the leaders gathered at COP27 will have to take significant action if we are to have any chance of limiting CO2 emissions. if we want to have any chance of limiting global warming to 1.5 ° C ».
The deforestation emergency
Professor Corinne Le Quéré, Royal Society Research Lecturer at the EU’s School of Environmental Sciences said: ‘Our findings reveal a turbulence in this year’s emission patterns due to the pandemic and the global energy crisis. If governments react by boosting investments in clean energy and planting, rather than cutting, trees, global emissions could begin to decline rapidly. “
“We are at a turning point and we must not allow world events to distract us from the urgent and lasting need to reduce our emissions to stabilize the global climate and reduce cascading risks.”
Land use changes, especially deforestation, are a significant source of CO2 emissions (about one-tenth of fossil emissions). Indonesia, Brazil and the Democratic Republic of the Congo contribute 58% of global emissions due to land use changes.
Eliminating carbon through reforestation or creating new forests offsets half of the emissions from deforestation, and researchers say stopping deforestation and increasing efforts to restore and expand forests represent a great opportunity to reduce emissions and increase uptake in forests.