No sign of decrease in global CO2 emissions

Published by  News archive

On 11th Nov 2022

Emissions from a power plant in Thailand.
Getty images

Global carbon emissions in 2022 remain at record levels – with no sign of the decrease that is urgently needed to limit warming to 1.5°C, according to the latest annual update from the Global Carbon Project.
 

If current emissions levels persist, there is now a 50% chance that global warming of 1.5°C will be exceeded in nine years, says the Global Carbon Budget team, which includes researchers from the University of East Anglia.

The new report projects total global CO2 emissions of 40.6 billion tonnes (GtCO2) in 2022. This is fuelled by fossil CO2 emissions which are projected to rise 1.0% compared to 2021, reaching 36.6 GtCO2 – slightly above the 2019 pre-COVID-19 levels. Emissions from land-use change (such as deforestation) are projected to be 3.9 GtCO2 in 2022.

Projected emissions from coal and oil are above their 2021 levels, with oil being the largest contributor to total emissions growth. The growth in oil emissions can be largely explained by the delayed rebound of international aviation following COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

The 2022 picture among major emitters is mixed: emissions are projected to fall in China (0.9%) and the EU (0.8%), and increase in the USA (1.5%) and India (6%), with a 1.7% rise in the rest of the world combined.

The remaining carbon budget for a 50% likelihood to limit global warming to 1.5°C has reduced 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). 

To reach zero CO2 emissions by 2050 would now require a decrease of about 1.4 GtCO2 each year, comparable to the observed fall in 2020 emissions resulting from COVID-19 lockdowns, highlighting the scale of the action required.

Land and ocean, which absorb and store carbon, continue to take up around half of the CO2 emissions. 

The ocean and land CO2 sinks are still increasing in response to the atmospheric CO2 increase, although climate change reduced this growth by an estimated 4% (ocean sink) and 17%  (land sink) over the 2012-2021 decade.

This year's carbon budget shows that the long-term rate of increasing fossil emissions has slowed. The average rise peaked at +3% per year during the 2000s, while growth in the last decade has been about +0.5% per year. 

The research team – including the University of Exeter, UEA, CICERO and Ludwig-Maximilian-University Munich – welcomed this slow-down, but said it was "far from the emissions decrease we need".

The findings come as world leaders meet at COP27 in Egypt to discuss the climate crisis.

"This year we see yet another rise in global fossil CO2 emissions, when we need a rapid decline," said Prof Pierre Friedlingstein, of Exeter's Global Systems Institute, who led the study.

"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°C. The Global Carbon Budget numbers monitor the progress on climate action and right now we are not seeing the action required.”

Prof Corinne Le Quéré, Royal Society Research Professor at UEA’s School of Environmental Sciences, said: "Our findings reveal turbulence in emissions patterns this year resulting from the pandemic and global energy crises.

"If governments respond by turbo charging clean energy investments and planting, not cutting, trees, global emissions could rapidly start to fall.

"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 stabilise the global climate and reduce cascading risks."

Land-use changes, especially deforestation, are a significant source of CO2 emissions (about a tenth of the amount from fossil emissions). Indonesia, Brazil and the Democratic Republic of the Congo contribute 58% of global land-use change emissions. 

Carbon removal via reforestation or new forests counterbalances half of the deforestation emissions, and the researchers say that stopping deforestation and increasing efforts to restore and expand forests constitutes a large opportunity to reduce emissions and increase removals in forests. 

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

The projection of 40.6 GtCO2 total emissions in 2022 is close to the 40.9 GtCO2 in 2019, which is the highest annual total ever.

The Global Carbon Budget report, produced by an international team of more than 100 scientists, examines both carbon sources and sinks. It provides an annual, peer-reviewed update, building on established methodologies in a fully transparent manner. Once published, the 2022 edition (the 17th annual report) will be online here: https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-14-4811-2022
 

Latest News

 
Two panels of the climate change mural artwork
25 Nov 2022

Climate change mural now on display at Norwich City Hall in historic year for Climatic Research Unit

On the 50th anniversary year of UEA’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU), the stark impact of climate change has been brought into focus by a giant mural now on...

Read more >
 
25 Nov 2022

Subsidence control reduces flood risk in China’s coastal communities in China

New research suggests that implementation of a national policy of subsidence control would greatly reduce the impacts on sea level rise for people living in...

Read more >
 
Chimneys with smoke
23 Nov 2022

UEA receives share of £5 million investment

UEA is part of a UK research consortium led by the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) to receive £5 million investment to grow national greenhouse gas...

Read more >
 
UEA Climbing club before and after shaving their heads for charity fundraiser
23 Nov 2022

UEA Climbing club members brave the shave in solidarity with president’s alopecia diagnosis

On Wednesday 26 October, UEA Climbing president Nina Hatton-Perkins and her club members ran a head-shaving fundraiser for Alopecia UK, a small national charity...

Read more >
Are you searching for something?
 
UEA Climbing club before and after shaving their heads for charity fundraiser
23 Nov 2022

UEA Climbing club members brave the shave in solidarity with president’s alopecia diagnosis

On Wednesday 26 October, UEA Climbing president Nina Hatton-Perkins and her club members ran a head-shaving fundraiser for Alopecia UK, a small national charity...

Read more >
 
An elderly couple dancing.
21 Nov 2022

£2.6 million to fund largest ever study into social prescribing for dementia

Researchers at the University of East Anglia will investigate how social prescribing could be used in promoting a higher quality of life for people living with...

Read more >
 
Icebergs melting in the Atlantic
18 Nov 2022

Climate change driving changes of plankton in our ocean

Scientists have discovered that the heating up of the North Atlantic is causing plankton to shift and change in abundance, indicating a threat to the earth’s...

Read more >
 
A woman sat at a home-working desk.
17 Nov 2022

Satisfaction with working from home is distinct from job satisfaction, new study shows

New research reveals that influences on the job satisfaction of homeworkers are no different from those normally associated with it; but influences on their...

Read more >
 
Degree Apprenticeship programme team with their prize
01 Nov 2022

Clinical Associate in Psychology training wins national award

The national development of the Clinical Associate in Psychology degree apprenticeship, which UEA has played a key part in establishing, has won the Workforce...

Read more >