Climate crisis: Global CO2 emissions remain at record levels

Despite drastic warnings about the climate crisis, global CO2 emissions remain at record levels.

Climate crisis: Global CO2 emissions remain at record levels

Despite drastic warnings about the climate crisis, global CO2 emissions remain at record levels. There are "no signs of a decline," said a group of scientists 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 (UK) published the GCB report in the journal "Earth System Science Data". 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.

Germany has reduced CO2 emissions

"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 university memo. One of the positive developments is that 24 countries - including Germany - have reduced their CO2 emissions in recent years despite economic growth.

Still, global CO2 emissions from the use of fossil fuels this year are expected to be 36.6 billion tons, according to the report. 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 related to the lower CO2 emissions from land use. About half of the increase in CO2 emissions from 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.

Hopes for "Green Recovery" have been dashed

After the decline in global CO2 emissions to 38.5 billion tons in the first year of the pandemic, 2020, the values ​​are roughly back to pre-pandemic levels. A hoped-for "green recovery", i.e. a crisis management with the help of a more sustainable economic system, has apparently not happened. "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 will decrease by around 0.9 percent, mainly due to the restrictive measures to combat the pandemic and the construction crisis. In the EU, CO2 values ​​will fall by 0.8 percent, mainly due to lower natural gas consumption 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 (MCC) 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.

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