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Friday, July 19, 2024

Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions Expected to Rise Despite Renewables Growth

Despite international commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the latest analysis by the Global Carbon Project indicates that carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels are expected to rise by 1.1 percent in 2023 compared to 2022. This data, presented at the climate talks in Dubai, underscores the challenges in meeting global climate goals, with world leaders striving to limit global warming to 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.

The report’s findings reveal that the continued growth in fossil fuel use contradicts the rapid expansion of renewable energy sources. Researchers argue that merely supporting renewables is insufficient to address the climate crisis, emphasizing the need for policies that actively reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

While emissions experienced a significant decline in 2020 due to the pandemic’s impact on the global economy, they have rebounded and are on an upward trajectory. The report predicts that carbon dioxide emissions in 2023 will be 1.4 percent higher than those in 2019. This increase reflects the resurgence in coal, oil, and gas consumption, particularly in rapidly growing economies.

In China, carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels are projected to grow by 4 percent in 2023 compared to 2022, while in India, they are expected to increase by 8.2 percent. Furthermore, emissions from international flights and shipping, activities not attributed to specific countries, are anticipated to rise by 11.9 percent this year.

Although some countries, including Brazil, Japan, parts of the European Union, South Africa, and the United States, have witnessed a decline in fossil fuel emissions over the past decade, these reductions are insufficient to align with the temperature goals outlined in the 2015 Paris Agreement. Such declines occurred in countries responsible for only 28 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels.

The report highlights the urgent need for all countries to accelerate the decarbonization of their economies. However, achieving this goal faces challenges, particularly in securing financing for renewable energy projects in developing countries, diverting resources from fossil fuel expansion.

Beyond fossil fuel combustion, other sources contribute to carbon dioxide emissions, such as deforestation and changes to the Earth’s landscape. While landscape emissions may have slightly decreased recently, measuring them accurately poses challenges, and uncertainties remain.

The current trajectory of rising greenhouse gas emissions intensifies the challenge of curbing emissions in time to limit global warming. The report emphasizes that the planet is already 1.2 degrees Celsius warmer than the period from 1850 to 1990. Based on current trends, the world has approximately seven years before exceeding its “carbon budget,” becoming more than 50 percent likely to surpass a temperature increase of 1.5 degrees.

As world leaders convene at COP28, the United States and China, responsible for over a third of global greenhouse gas emissions, have agreed to enhance renewable energy initiatives. While this non-binding agreement sets goals for replacing fossil fuels with solar, wind, and other renewables, the lack of specifics regarding enforcement leaves uncertainties. The report underscores the importance of such agreements but deems them insufficient to address the magnitude of the climate crisis.

Looking ahead, negotiators at the climate summit are urged to consider binding agreements that outline specific and rapid timelines for phasing down not only coal but also oil and gas. A recent pledge by 118 governments to triple renewable energy, double energy efficiency, and reduce fossil fuel use has garnered support, though China and India abstained. The report calls for a comprehensive approach to address the global reliance on fossil fuels, emphasizing the critical role of COP28 in advancing meaningful and actionable solutions.

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