‘Deeply concerning’: World on course to hit record carbon emissions in 2022, scientists say


Global carbon emissions are set to hit a new record in 2022 with no sign of the decrease that is urgently needed to limit warming to 1.5°C, according to a study released to coincide with COP27.

Experts said the findings underlined the sheer scale of the task faced by negotiators at the climate change summit in Egypt to put into place agreements to take the dramatic action needed to avoid the worst ravages of global warming.

The study warns that if the world continues with current levels of emissions, there is a 50 per cent chance that within nine years global temperature rises will hit 1.5°C, the target world leaders have set and beyond which the impacts of climate change become significantly worse.

Emissions would have to fall at rates comparable to 2020 – when Covid-19 restrictions shut down transport, industry and economic activities – every year to keep temperature rises to that level in the long term, the experts say.

But carbon pollution from burning fossil fuels has risen 1 per cent on 2021 levels, the analysis from the Global Carbon Project says, and is now slightly above the record levels seen in 2019.

(Global Carbon Project)

“This year, we see yet another rise in global fossil carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, when we need a rapid decline,” said Professor Pierre Friedlingstein, of Exeter University, 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,” he said.

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The increase in carbon dioxide from fossil fuels, including cement production, is due to the continuing recovery from the pandemic and the energy crisis caused by the invasion of Ukraine, the researchers said.

CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels are projected to rise by 1 per cent compared to 2021, reaching 36.6 thousand billion tonnes (gigatonnes) – slightly above the 2019 pre-Covid levels, found the study, by researchers from the University of Exeter, the University of East Anglia (UEA), CICERO and Ludwig-Maximilian-University Munich.

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 per cent above pre-industrial levels. During that period, the planet has warmed by 1.1 to 1.2°C, with precise numbers varying between studies.

Professor Eric Wolff of Cambridge University, who was not involved in the study, said: “This shows the task that COP27 negotiators have: not just to get the world to promise net zero, but to start moving towards it now.”

“To stabilise the climate we need to reach net zero, where the amount of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere is balanced by what is removed. This thorough annual accounting shows that we are nowhere near that: far from falling towards zero, emissions are actually going up.

Professor Mark Maslin of University College London added: “he nations of the world are meeting in Egypt at COP27 to agree large-scale cuts to greenhouse gas emissions. The ultimate aim is to get to net zero emission by 2050 and so this is deeply depressing.”



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