We are still seeing record growth in clean energy, but at the same time we have not been able to adequately control the growth in fossil fuels. Therefore, global carbon dioxide emissions continue to rise, says Glenn Peters.
He is one of the leading researchers in Cicero And part of the leadership team of the Global Carbon Project (GCP).
On Tuesday, the GCP presents its annual analysis of the evolution of global carbon dioxide emissions. The numbers make grim reading:
- The increase in carbon dioxide emissions is expected to reach 1.1 percent this year. This is more than double the average of the past 10 years, which was 0.5 percent.
- A total of 36.8 billion tons of carbon dioxide is expected to be emitted globally this year. It’s more than ever.
- Global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil sources are now 6 percent higher than in 2015 Paris Agreement And it was decided.
This comes after the world crossed a dramatic threshold last year when the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was for the first time more than 50 percent higher than it was in pre-industrial times.
There weren’t a lot of coal emissions
Emissions continue to rise even though the world has never produced as much renewable energy as this year.
2023 is also likely to be the year with the largest carbon dioxide emissions from coal. Among fossil fuels, coal causes the largest emissions.
In 2014, emissions from coal reached a peak, followed by a decline for several years. These numbers gave hope that the world was going to use less of the more dangerous fossil fuels.
This trend continued throughout the pandemic, but in 2022 a new record was set in emissions from coal. This year, the number is even higher, and never before have there been so many carbon dioxide emissions from coal use.
Go to NRK Climate Status
This is in relation to the seasons. In summer, the amount of carbon dioxide decreases because plants and trees absorb carbon dioxide from the air. In winter, plants die, carbon dioxide escapes and the graph rises. Because there are more plants and trees in the Northern Hemisphere, the seasons here control the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Global warming makes the Earth habitable, but more greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, increase this effect and make the Earth warmer. The graph starts in 1960 because that was the year the world started systematically measuring carbon dioxide. It happened at Mauna Loa in Hawaii and the curve shows the measurements from there. Before the world became industrialized, there was about 280 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (in 1700). The researchers discovered this by analyzing ice core samples.
No, not right away. If we reduce emissions, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will increase more slowly. The reduction in emissions must be significant and last a long time before we can see its impact.
Imagine that the atmosphere is a bathtub, and greenhouse gases are the water that fills it. Even if you turn off the tap, water will not run out of the bathtub. This is the case with greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide takes a long time to break down in the atmosphere. That’s why experts want technology that extracts greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, in addition to reducing emissions.
World politicians have decided that they will try to limit the rise in global temperature to no more than 1.5 degrees, compared to what the temperature was before the industrial revolution. Then we must keep the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere below 430 parts per million, according to the UN climate panel.
Mostly in China and India
– Emissions are rising most in China and India, says Jan-Ivar Korsbakken of Cicero.
This percentage is even higher in India, where emissions are expected to rise by 8.2 percent.
Of course, it’s not good for the planet for emissions to rise there, Korsbakken says. But he also adds that the matter must be viewed in context.
– We must also remember that India has much lower emissions per capita than the vast majority of other places in the Western world, he says.
He also points out that, from a historical perspective, Western countries are responsible for most of the greenhouse gases that lead to global warming.
Emissions are falling in both the US and Europe: But both the US and Europe have long ago exhausted their share of the total carbon budget if we wanted to stay within 1.5 or even 2 degrees, says Korspikin.
The lowest in 120 years
One positive sign in the report is that emissions from coal in Western countries are now lower than they have been for many years. In the USA, carbon dioxide emissions have not been this low for 120 years.
– Emissions from coal consumption in the United States have now fallen to levels last seen in 1903, says Cicero’s Robbie Andrew.
This is primarily due to the closure of coal-fired power plants and cheap natural gas.
Emissions from fossil fuels have also fallen sharply in Europe. In the European Union, carbon dioxide emissions from fossil sources are expected to fall by 7.4 percent in 2023.
One reason is that more and more renewable energy is coming to the market. At the same time, last winter was exceptionally mild, which meant you didn’t need to shoot much.
– When it is not 1.5 degrees
Korspikun says the numbers in the report show that it is not realistic to reach the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees:
– If we cannot reduce emissions at all, the 1.5 degree limit will be exceeded in just seven years. “So we don’t think that’s really realistic right now,” he says.
– Maybe the next target is 1.7 degrees. Then we have about double the time. But with today’s pace, it is unlikely that we can stick to that target either. Korspikin adds.
It is supported by Professor Pierre Friedlingstein, from the Exeter Institute for Global Systems, who was also a member of the leadership team for the report.
It now seems inevitable that we will exceed the 1.5 degree target in the Paris Agreement. Leaders at the Dubai climate summit must agree on rapid cuts in carbon dioxide if we want to be able to maintain the 2°C target, Friedlingstein says.
Glen Peters points out an old saying when it comes to what Norway should do to reduce its emissions.
He points out that large portions of Norwegian emissions come from oil and gas production. At the same time, the government and the majority in Parliament want to continue the search for oil and gas.
– If you are in a hole, the first thing you should do is stop digging, says Peter, commenting on Norwegian politics.
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