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Global CO2 emissions show no sign of falling, reducing chances to limit warming

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SHARM EL SHEIKH, EGYPT: Climate activists hold demonstration that countries provide financing to eliminate the negative effects of climate change in front of the International Convention Center as the UN climate summit COP27 is being held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt on November 06, 2022. (Mohamed Abdel Hamid - Anadolu Agency)
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Nov 11, 2022 - 01:53 AM

SHARM EL-SHEIKH (AA) – Global carbon emissions (CO2) this year are forecast to remain at a record level of around 40.6 billion tons, up 1% from last year, and if current emission levels persist, there is now a 50% chance that global warming of 1.5 C (2.7 F) will be exceeded in nine years, the Global Carbon Budget report showed Friday.

Unveiled at the 27th Conference of Parties (COP27) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change running from Nov. 6-18 in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh, the report, produced by an international team of more than 100 scientists, said the increase in total global CO2 emissions is being fueled by fossil fuel induced emissions which are expected to increase 1% compared to 2021, reaching 36.6 billion tons.

Emissions from land-use change such as deforestation are forecast to total 3.9 billion tons this year.

“This year, we see yet another rise in global fossil CO2 emissions when we need a rapid decline. 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 1.5 degrees,” said Professor Pierre Friedlingstein of the University of Exeter’s Global Systems Institute, who led the study.

He noted that the action required is not observed right now.

The turmoil in energy markets led to emissions growth from different sources, according to the report.

CO2 emissions from natural gas are expected to decline by 0.2%, potentially the third such decline since 1990, while coal use related CO2 emissions are estimated to grow by 1%, exceeding the previous peak levels in 2014.

CO2 emissions from oil use are expected to rise by 2.2% primarily because of the recovery in international aviation.

“Many countries, cities, companies and individuals have made pledges to reduce emissions, and 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 CICERO Center for International Climate Research.

In line with the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming by 1.5 C by the end of the century, global emissions need to halve by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050.

Peters said that during the global financial crisis in 2008/9, the COVID-19 pandemic and now the Ukrainian war, economic stimulus packages were meant to put the world on a cleaner and greener path.

“But this is not at all evident in the CO2 emissions data,” he said.

Emissions up in India and US, down in China and EU

As per country based emissions growth, India has the largest contribution to the growth of CO2 emissions this year, with a projected rise of 6%, driven by increases in coal and oil emissions.

The US is projected to see an increase of 1.5% in CO2 emissions this year. Emissions from gas are projected to rise by 4.7% due to increased electricity demand and constraints on coal supply, with coal to decline by 4.6%.

China is projected to have the first decline in fossil CO2 emissions since the slowdown in 2015 and 2016, with a projected decrease of 0.9%, driven mainly by continuing lockdowns.

CO2 emissions in the European Union are estimated to fall by 0.8% as a result of a 10% decrease in natural gas related CO2 emissions, but emissions from coal use are to rise by 6.7% in the continent.

1.4-billion-ton CO2 annual cut required for net zero by 2050

With the increase of worldwide CO2 emissions, the remaining carbon budget for a 50% likelihood to limit global warming to 1.5 C has been reduced to 380 billion tons, which is likely to be exceeded after nine years if emissions remain at current levels.

The budget is 1,230 billion tons of CO2 to limit the global warming rise to 1C.

“Our findings reveal turbulence in emissions patterns this year resulting from the pandemic and global energy crises. If governments respond by turbocharging clean energy investments and planting, not cutting, trees, global emissions could rapidly start to fall,” said Corinne Le Quere, Royal Society Research Professor of Climate Change Science at the University of East Anglia.

“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 said.

Reaching net zero CO2 emissions by 2050 now requires a decrease of about 1.4 billion tons of CO2 emissions each year, comparable to the observed fall in 2020 emissions resulting from COVID-19 lockdowns.

Although the long-term rate of increasing fossil emissions has slowed from a peak of 3% per year during the 2000s to 0.5% in the last decade, scientists say this slowdown is far from the emission reductions that are urgently needed.

The Global Carbon Budget report also projects that atmospheric CO2 concentrations will reach an average of 417.2 parts per million in 2022, more than 50% above pre-industrial levels.

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