The report, produced by an international team of more than 100 scientists, examines both carbon sources and sinks.

No sign of decrease in global CO2 emissions: Global Carbon Budget report

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

Global carbon emissions in 2022 remain at record levels, with no sign of the decrease that is urgently needed to limit warming to 1.5°C, said the Global Carbon Budget 2022 report. The report warned that 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 report projected total global CO2 emissions of 40.6 billion tonnes (GtCO2) in 2022. This is fuelled by fossil CO2 emissions, which are projected to rise 1.0% compared to 2021, reaching 36.6 GtCO2—slightly above the 2019 pre-COVID-19 levels. These estimates include the cement carbonation sink of 0.8 GtCO2 per year. Emissions from land-use change (such as deforestation) are projected to be 3.9 GtCO2 in 2022. 

The report, produced by an international team of more than 100 scientists, examines both carbon sources and sinks. According to the report, the 2022 picture among major emitters is mixed as emissions are projected to fall in China (0.9%) and the EU (0.8%), and increase in the USA (1.5%) and India (6%), with a 1.7% rise in the rest of the world combined.

At the current rate, in less than 10 years, the world could blow through its chances of staying within 1.5°C of global warming. More than half of this damage was done before 1990 when economies like India started to develop. Even now, India’s emissions are rising from a low base compared to other large economies, and the average Indian’s emissions are a fraction of the European or American. Going forward, India is fortunate to have abundant renewable energy to fuel its growth, but needs timely finance to build the infrastructure to store and transmit this energy. Adoption of clean technologies by India will not just cut carbon, but can also prevent millions of premature deaths due to air pollution,” said Ulka Kelkar, director of climate program, World Resources Institute, India. 

The report found that emissions in 2022 are projected to increase in India by 6% (range 3.9% to 8.0%), driven mostly by a 5% increase in coal emissions. Emissions from oil are up sharply, with a projected rise of 10%, but this returns them to about the 2019 levels. 

Emissions from natural gas are projected to decline 4%, but contribute little to the total change as gas is a small part of the energy mix in India, said the report. 

Oil emissions (33% of global emissions) are projected to rise 2.2% (range 1.1 to 3.3%), and dominate the global rise in fossil CO2 emissions. Rises in oil emissions are projected in all large regions except China, with the largest contributions from the rest of the world (which includes international aviation), India, and the USA, and a smaller contribution from the European Union, partly compensated by a decrease in China.

Cement emissions (5% of global emissions) are projected to decrease 1.6% (range – 3.7% to +0.5%), with a strong decrease in China partly compensated by rises in India and the rest of the world.

Depleting carbon budget, saturating carbon sinks

The report found that the remaining carbon budget for a 50% likelihood to limit global warming to 1.5°C has reduced to 380 GtCO2 (exceeded after nine years if emissions remain at 2022 levels) and 1,230 GtCO2 to limit to 2°C (30 years at 2022 emissions levels). 

“While everyone refers to the historical responsibility argument which is critical, less attention is paid to future responsibility. The net-zero pledges of China, EU and the US will collectively exhaust 89% of the remaining carbon budget of 500 GtCO2 by 2050. A mere 10-year advancement of the net-zero years by these countries can release 18% of global carbon space for the developing world, making the transition more equitable. Otherwise, the current net-zero years of the developed countries will only perpetuate inequity in the climate debate,” said Pallavi Das, programme associate, Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW)

Land and ocean, which absorb and store carbon, continue to take up around half of the CO2 emissions. However, the report estimated that climate change reduced the uptake of CO2 by the ocean and land sinks by about 4% and 17%, respectively, over the 2012-2021 decade.

Land-use changes, especially deforestation, are a significant source of CO2 emissions (about a tenth of the amount from fossil emissions). Indonesia, Brazil and the Democratic Republic of the Congo contribute 58% of global land-use change emissions. 

The report recommended carbon removal via reforestation as new forests counterbalance half of the deforestation emissions. Researchers said that stopping deforestation and increasing efforts to restore and expand forests constitutes a large opportunity to reduce emissions and increase removals in forests.