The global burning of coal, oil and natural gas this year is emitting 1% more heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the air than last year, bad news for the fight against climate change but with a twist strange, according to scientists who follow the broadcasts.
China’s carbon pollution is down 0.9% this year from 2021, while US emissions are up 1.5%, according to a study by Global Carbon Project scientists released Friday morning at the international climate talks in Egypt. Both are opposite to long-term trends. US emissions had steadily declined while Chinese emissions had increased, until this year.
Either way, it’s a reaction to the pandemic and perhaps a bit of the energy crisis created by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the lead author of the report told The Associated Press. Pierre Friedlingstein study from the University of Exeter. He said those two factors made this year’s data chaotic and difficult to discern trends. China’s 2022 lockdown in an attempt to control the novel COVID-19 is a major factor in that country’s decline, he said.
Much of the jump has been in transportation — cars and air travel — with limits on how people move during the pandemic waning, Friedlingstein said.
While global carbon pollution continues to rise, it is not growing as rapidly as 10 or 15 years ago. But overall, the scientists said it was bad news because it brought Earth closer to reaching and then exceeding the globally adopted threshold of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times.
“That means we better get ready to overshoot and enter a world humans have never known,” said Princeton University climatologist Michael Oppenheimer, who was not part of the panel. ‘Research Team.
Friedlingstein’s team, along with other scientific reports, estimate that Earth can only emit 380 billion metric tons (419 US tons) of carbon dioxide into the air before Earth reaches the 1.5 degrees. That’s about 9-10 years of emissions, meaning the globe will likely reach that point around 2031 or 2032.
“Time for 1.5 is running out,” Friedlingstein said.
“This is bad news,” said Brown University climatologist Kim Cobb, who was not part of the research team. “It’s hard to see a silver lining in rising emissions, when we need to halve emissions by 2030 to keep global warming to an absolute minimum.”
In 2022, the world is on track to release 36.6 billion metric tons (40.3 billion US tons) of carbon dioxide into the air from energy and cement use, according to the study. This is the weight of the Great Pyramid of Giza in carbon dioxide released every 75 minutes.
In addition to the United States seeing its emissions increase, India recorded a 6% increase in 2022, while Europe recorded a 0.8% decrease. The rest of the world averaged a 1.7% jump in carbon pollution.
Pollution from coal jumped 1% from a year ago, for oil it was up 2% and for natural gas it was down 0.2%, according to the report. About 40% of carbon dioxide comes from burning coal, 33% from oil and 22% from natural gas, Friedlingstein said.
The team calculates emission levels through early fall using data provided by major carbon-emitting countries including the United States, China, India and Europe, then makes projections for the rest of the year.
Although there are limits to the projections, Oppenheimer said: “It’s the A team on CO2 emissions and the carbon cycle. They know what they’re doing.”
Fossil fuel carbon emissions fell 5.3% in 2020 but rebounded 5.6% last year, boosted by China, and have now fully erased the pandemic decline and are back on a slow upward trend, Friedlingstein said.
The team is also looking at global emissions, including land use effects. When land use is taken into account, emissions are stable and not increasing slightly, he said.
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