Alarming Findings Point to Urgent Need for Global Climate Action

International Report from COP28 Highlights Dire Climate Warning and Challenges in Achieving Net Zero

The annual Global Carbon Budget, presented at the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP28) in Dubai, paints a stark picture of the world’s environmental challenges. The report, authored by Dr. Pep Canadell, Executive Director of the Global Carbon Project, and Chief Research Scientist at Australia’s CSIRO, reveals that total fossil carbon dioxide emissions are projected to reach a record high of 36.8 billion tonnes in 2023.

Key Findings:

  1. Record-Breaking Emissions: Fossil carbon dioxide emissions are set to hit an all-time high, marking an alarming milestone in the global effort to combat climate change. Despite progress in some countries, the overall pace of emissions reduction is insufficient to place the world on a trajectory toward net-zero emissions.
  2. One-in-Two Chance of 1.5°C Temperature Increase: Dr. Canadell’s analysis indicates that if current emission levels persist, there is a one-in-two chance of the Earth’s climate system reaching 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels within seven years. This alarming statistic underscores the urgency of taking immediate and decisive action.
  3. Paris Agreement Targets at Risk: The report emphasizes that current efforts, while commendable in certain regions, are not substantial enough to meet the temperature targets outlined in the Paris Agreement. Achieving net-zero emissions would require a monumental scale-up of deliberate carbon dioxide removal, a task that may prove challenging if current emission levels persist.
  4. Fossil Fuel Projections: The projections for 2023 reveal a 1.1% increase in global emissions from fossil fuel use, reaching a staggering 36.8 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide. Notably, emissions from oil are projected to rise by 1.5%, primarily due to the resumption of ground transport and aviation following COVID-19 pandemic-related shutdowns.
  5. Impact of Forest Loss and Extreme Fires: The report introduces new elements, including carbon dioxide emissions from wildfires, particularly notable in the northern hemisphere. Deforestation remains a concern, with emissions surpassing the capacity of current reforestation efforts. Extreme fire seasons, such as those witnessed in Canada, have contributed to elevated emissions.
  6. El Niño Event’s Influence: The upcoming 2023-24 El Niño event is anticipated to elevate carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere. Hotter, drier weather associated with El Niño is expected to reduce the effectiveness of natural carbon sinks, potentially leading to higher atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations and increased warming.
  7. Carbon Dioxide Removal: For the first time, the budget accounts for carbon dioxide removal efforts. Afforestation and reforestation contributed 1.9 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide removal, equivalent to about 5% of fossil emissions. However, non-vegetative methods, including industrial removal and certain mineral uses, only offset a small fraction of emissions.

The Global Carbon Budget, initiated in 2006, provides crucial insights into global carbon dioxide sources and sinks. While contributing to international initiatives such as COP28 and serving as vital input for the IPCC and WMO, the report emphasizes the need for urgent, collective action to avert the severe consequences of climate change on health, the economy, and the environment. Achieving the ambitious targets of the Paris Agreement requires unprecedented efforts on a global scale, making the 2023 Global Carbon Budget a pivotal call to action for leaders and citizens alike.

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