Global carbon emissions are expected to rise in 2023 and are significantly higher than when nations signed the historic The Paris Agreementaccording to a recently published climate report.
Each year, researchers from the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research (CICERO) in Oslo, Norway I carefully calculate how much capture heat carbon dioxide countries emit into the Earth’s atmosphere in its Global Carbon Budget Report. This year’s projected growth rate of 1.1 percent is higher than the average growth rate of 0.5 percent per year over the past 10 years. Carbon emissions are also six percent higher than under the Paris Agreement agreed in 2015, making meeting the pact’s ambitious temperature targets even more challenging.
In 2023, CO2 emissions from fossil fuels hit record levels, the researchers said.
“The continued rise in global emissions makes it clear that it is more urgent than ever to act if we are to have the chance to meet the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to well below two degrees,” said CICERO Director Christine Halvorsen in a statement.
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In total, about 37.5 gigatons, or 37.5 billion tons of CO2 were emitted into the Earth’s atmosphere in 2023.
(Importantly, scientists emphasize that we are not doomed: We still have the ability to reduce emissions and avoid the worst impacts of a warming globe.)
Projected carbon emissions, in gigatons, emitted in 2023. This is a 1.1 percent increase over 2022.
Credit: Global Carbon Project
Although carbon emissions fell three percent in the United States in 2023, they rose in other countries, including India, which produced 8.2 percent more emissions, and China, where emissions rose four percent (although China’s emissions have been dramatically higher than India’s since 2023 early 2000s and still are). China and India have also driven carbon emissions from coal use to record highs.
CO2 emissions from oil use are also expected to rise by 1.5 percent, mostly from aviation and land transport emissions in China, although those emissions are still below pre-pandemic levels. Meanwhile, natural gas emissions may increase very slightly, about 0.5%, but may also stay the same or even decrease. Although there has been increased use of natural gas in China, it has decreased in the European Union due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and subsequent wars.
“…we have failed to put sufficient controls on the growth of fossil fuels and therefore CO2 emissions just keep rising.”
Although there has been a significant increase in the use of renewable energy, including in China, they have not kept pace with rising carbon emissions.
“China has seen continued strong growth in wind and solar power, without which emissions growth would have been much higher,” Jan Ivar Korsbakken, a senior researcher at CICERO, which makes the Chinese emissions projections, said in a statement. “But solar and wind power could not meet the high growth in electricity demand and low hydropower production due to the drought, so coal power generation also rose.”
“We keep seeing record growth in clean energy, but we haven’t been able to put sufficient controls on the growth of fossil fuels, and so CO2 emissions just keep rising,” said Glenn Peters, also a senior researcher at CICERO, in a statement.
The main sources of carbon dioxide in the world.
Credit: Global Carbon Project
Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have skyrocketed over the past century.
The increase marks twelfth year in a row that the average amount of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere has increased by more than two parts per million (ppm). Atmospheric CO2 levels are now the highest they have ever been millions of years.
With rising emissions, the world is not on track to meet the climate goals set out in the Paris Agreement to save the Earth below 1.5-2 degrees Celsius (2.7 to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) of warming above pre-industrial levels, to prevent the most catastrophic impacts of climate change – extreme rainfall, droughtsand melting ice sheets, for example. To stop global warming, emissions must drop to zero.
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Earth’s temperature has already risen by just over 1 C, or 2 F, since 1800, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The more carbon we release into our atmosphere, the more the Earth’s average temperature will continue to rise. And the past nine years have been the warmest on record, at least since modern record-keeping began in 1880, according to NASA.
“Net zero has become a catchphrase for doing something about the climate, but at its core is the need to reduce CO2 emissions to almost zero,” Peters said. “If countries and companies are not radically reducing CO2 emissions, then they are in no way in line with the scientific concept of net zero emissions.”