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Jake Johnson: ‘Deeply Depressing’ Study Shows Planet-Warming Emissions Continue to Rise

A firefighter sprays water toward flames at a night wildfire in Saumos on Bordeaux’s western outskirts, southwestern France on September 12, 2022. (Photo: Philippe Lopez/AFP via Getty Images)

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“If current emissions levels persist, there is now a 50% chance that global warming of 1.5°C will be exceeded in nine years.”

Rapid and drastic cuts to global greenhouse gas emissions are necessary to curb warming and prevent the most dire climate scenarios from becoming reality.

But a new study released Friday by the Global Carbon Project finds “no sign of the decrease that is urgently needed” as emissions remain at record levels this year, with fossil fuel giants and governments plowing ahead with new extraction efforts that could push critical climate targets out of reach.

Scientists with the Global Carbon Project estimate that total CO2 emissions will reach 40.6 billion tonnes this year—driven by rising pollution from fossil fuels—and will likely continue to rise in 2023 without bold action from policymakers worldwide.

“If current emissions levels persist, there is now a 50% chance that global warming of 1.5°C will be exceeded in nine years,” the researchers note. “Projected emissions from coal and oil are above their 2021 levels, with oil being the largest contributor to total emissions growth.”

“The 2022 picture among major emitters is mixed: emissions are projected to fall in China (0.9%) and the E.U. (0.8%), and increase in the USA (1.5%) and India (6%), with a 1.7% rise in the rest of the world combined,” the report finds.

Professor Pierre Friedlingstein of Exeter’s Global Systems Institute, the lead author of the new study, lamented in a statement that “we see yet another rise in global fossil CO2 emissions” in 2022 “when we need a rapid decline.”

“There are some positive signs,” Friedlingstein added, pointing to the slowing growth of fossil fuel emissions over the long term, “but leaders meeting at COP27 will have to take meaningful action if we are to have any chance of limiting global warming close to 1.5°C.”

That increasingly imperiled warming target remains a focus as world leaders gather in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt for the annual United Nations climate conference, a key opportunity for nations to commit to collective action against a climate emergency that is wreaking havoc worldwide.

Climate campaigners warn the opportunity is at risk of being squandered as Big Oil lobbyists swarm the conference and gas producers use the event to push their dirty energy source as a “transition fuel.”

Professor Corinne Le Quéré of the University of East Anglia, a co-author of the Global Carbon Project study, said that if governments respond to worsening climate chaos “by turbocharging clean energy investments and planting, not cutting, trees, global emissions could rapidly start to fall.”

“We are at a turning point and must not allow world events to distract us from the urgent and sustained need to cut our emissions to stabilize the global climate and reduce cascading risks,” Le Quéré warned.

Allowing planetary heating to exceed 1.5°C above preindustrial levels by the end of the century would spell disaster for large swaths of the planet as trends already seen around the world—from increasingly extreme weather events to species extinctions to rapidly melting sea ice—would accelerate, potentially locking in irreversible climate damage.

Professor Mark Maslin of University College London told The Guardian that the Global Carbon Project study is “deeply depressing.”

“It sends a clear message to the leaders at COP27—the world needs to have significant cuts in global emissions in 2023 if we are to have any chance to keep climate change to 1.5°C,” said Maslin.


First published in Common Dreams. Licensed under Creative Commons.

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