Worldwide CO₂ emissions again at record level
Floods, heat, drought: the climate crisis was particularly noticeable in many places this year. According to a report, hardly anything has changed in terms of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. The researchers also examined the influence of the pandemic in previous years.
TDespite drastic warnings about the climate crisis, global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO₂) remain at record levels. There are “no signs of a decline,” said a group of scientists on Thursday who wrote the research report “Global Carbon Budget 2022” (GCB). Total emissions – from land use and burning fossil fuels – are expected to amount to 40.6 billion tons this year. This is only slightly lower than the previous highest value from 2019 (40.9 billion tons).
A team led by Pierre Friedlingstein from the University of Exeter wrote the GCB report Journal “Earth System Science Data” released. Man-made CO₂ emissions are the main cause of global warming. Other greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide also play a role.
If CO₂ emissions remain at this high level in the coming years, the amount of CO₂ that can still be emitted for a 50 percent chance of meeting the 1.5 degree target will be used up in nine years, according to the report . The goal is to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees by 2100 compared to pre-industrial levels.
“We see some positive developments, but nowhere near the far-reaching measures that would have to be introduced now to keep global warming well below two degrees,” says Julia Pongratz from the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, co-author of the report. quoted in a statement. One of the positive developments is that 24 countries – including Germany – have reduced their CO₂ emissions in recent years despite economic growth.
Nevertheless lies global CO₂ emissions from the use of fossil fuels this year, according to the report, at an estimated 36.6 billion tons. That is one percent more than 2021 and just as much higher than 2019, i.e. before the coronavirus pandemic. According to the researchers, the increase is mainly due to the higher oil consumption due to the renewed increase in air traffic. Emission values for 2022 have been extrapolated to the full year from data up to and including October. Overall, the report is based on data from global measurement networks, satellite data, statistical surveys and model calculations.
The fact that the total value of man-made CO₂ emissions in 2022 is slightly lower than in 2019 is due to the lower CO₂ emissions from land use. About half of the increase in CO₂ emissions caused by deforestation can now be offset by reforestation elsewhere. As a result, CO₂ emissions from land use are estimated at 3.9 billion tonnes in 2022, compared to 4.6 billion tonnes in 2019.
After the decline in global CO₂ emissions to 38.5 billion tons in the first year of the pandemic, 2020, the values are back to the pre-pandemic level. A hoped-for “green recovery”, i.e. a crisis management with the help of a more sustainable economic system, apparently did not exist. “It is very clear that we have missed an opportunity here,” said Judith Hauck from the Alfred Wegener Institute in Bremerhaven, co-author of the report, at an online press conference.
In comparison to 2021, however, there will be different developments in 2022: CO₂ emissions will increase by 1.5 percent in the USA, by six percent in India and by 1.7 percent in the rest of the world (excluding China and the EU). In contrast, CO₂ emissions in China are reduced by around 0.9 percent, mainly due to the restrictive measures to combat the pandemic and the construction crisis.
In the EU, the values for CO₂ fall by 0.8 percent, mainly due to the lower consumption of natural gas as a result of the energy crisis and the war against Ukraine. While CO₂ emissions from natural gas fell by ten percent in the EU, emissions from coal increased by 6.7 percent and from oil by 0.9 percent.
If global man-made CO₂ emissions are to go to zero by 2050, they would need to be reduced by an average of 1.4 billion tons per year. According to Jan Christoph Minx from the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change gGmbH in Berlin, the fight against climate change is no longer about one measure or the other: “We have to do everything!” he said at a press conference. It depends on every tenth of a degree that the earth does not warm up, added Pongratz.