Global warming to reach 1.5°C in just 11 years as CO2 emissions rebound to pre-pandemic levels

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Global carbon dioxide emissions are set to increase by nearly 5% in 2021, reaching an estimated 36.4 billion tons. This follows a decrease of 5.4% in 2020, largely due to inactivity caused by the pandemic.

These are the latest findings of the Global Carbon Project (GCP), a research project from the UN-backed international research platform Future Earth, and a research partner of the WMO co-sponsored World Climate Research Programme (WCRP).

According to the GCP’s Global Carbon Budget report, released at COP26 in Glasgow, fossil carbon emissions are projected to increase by 4.9% this year (estimated to be between 4.1% and 5.7%), with emissions from coal and gas set to grow more in 2021 than they fell in 2020. Emissions from oil use will remain below 2019 levels.

Using data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report, the GCP projects that if CO2 emissions were to remain at 2021 levels, the Earth would have 11 years before reaching a temperature increase of 1.5°C, and 32 years to 2°C.

Pierre Friedlingstein, professor at the University of Exeter’s Global Systems Institute, who led the report in partnership with the University of East Anglia (UEA), CICERO and Stanford University, said, “The rapid rebound in emissions as economies recover from the pandemic reinforces the need for immediate global action on climate change.

“The rebound in global fossil CO2 emissions in 2021 reflects a return toward the pre-Covid fossil-based economy. Investments in the green economy in post-Covid recovery plans of some countries have been insufficient so far, on their own, to avoid a substantial return close to pre-Covid emissions.”

10 New Insights in Climate Science
Alongside the GCP findings, several key scientific and environmental organizations have released a series of insights into the current state of the Earth’s climate to inform, support and provoke discussion at COP26 and into the future.

Published by the WCRP, Future Earth and Earth League, the ‘10 New Insights in Climate Science’ report is based on an assessment made by more than 60 world-leading academic experts, with a scoping process that reaches several thousands of scientists working on fields related to climate change. Since 2017, the reports have been launched annually at COP. It highlights the following 10 Insights:

  • Stabilizing at 1.5°C warming is still possible, but immediate and drastic global action is required
  • Rapid growth in methane and nitrous oxide emissions put us on track for 2.7°C warming
  • Megafires – climate change forces fire extremes to reach new dimensions with extreme impacts
  • Climate tipping elements incur high-impact risks
  • Global climate action must be just
  • Supporting household behavior changes is a crucial but often overlooked opportunity for climate action
  • Political challenges impede the effectiveness of carbon pricing
  • Nature-based solutions are critical for the pathway to Paris – but look at the fine print
  • Building resilience of marine ecosystems is achievable by climate-adapted conservation and management, and global stewardship
  • The costs of climate change mitigation can be justified by the multiple immediate benefits to the health of humans and nature

To view the 10 New Insights in Climate Science resource page, click here.

To read more from the GCP’s Global Carbon Budget report, click here.

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About Author

, editor-in-chief

Dan first joined UKi Media & Events in 2014 having spent the early years of his career in the recruitment industry. As editor, he now produces content for Meteorological Technology International, unearthing the latest technological advances and research methods for the publication of each exciting new issue. When he’s not reporting on the latest meteorological news, Dan can be found on the golf course or apprehensively planning his next DIY project.

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