Scientists say climate change is still an alarming risk as yearly average emissions skyrocket to historic highs.
A newly released study has reported a disturbing new peak in global greenhouse gas emissions, marking an alarming surge in global warming.
In a comprehensive climate science update authored by around 50 leading scientists, the study revealed that the worrying trend of human-caused warming is increasing at an unmatched rate of over 0.2 degrees Celsius per decade from 2013 to 2022.
During the same timeframe, yearly average emissions skyrocketed to a historic high, with about 54 billion tonnes of CO2 or equivalent gases being released into the atmosphere, equating to roughly 1,700 tonnes per second.
The study, designed for policymakers, was subjected to rigorous peer review before its release on Thursday.
The striking findings will be presented to world leaders at the critical COP28 climate summit, set to take place later this year in Dubai. At the conference, the UN’s “Global Stocktake” will evaluate progress made towards the temperature goals set by the 2015 Paris Agreement.
Threat is on the rise despite summits
These revelations likely rule out the possibility of containing global warming within the Paris Agreement’s ambitious target of 1.5C. This target, though it would still entail significant impact, may pave the way for a relatively climate-safe world.
“Even though we are not yet at 1.5C warming, the carbon budget” – the amount of greenhouse gases humanity can emit without exceeding that limit – “will likely be exhausted in only a few years,” said lead author Piers Forster, a physics professor at the University of Leeds to AlJazeera.
This budget has been depleted by 50% since 2021 when the UN’s climate science advisory body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), compiled data for its latest benchmark report.
Many of the authors were key contributors to the IPCC.
The researchers reported that to even have a fifty-fifty chance of staying below the 1.5C limit, emissions of CO2, methane, and other warming agents, predominantly produced by burning fossil fuels, must not exceed 250 billion tonnes (gigatonnes).
Improving these odds to two-thirds or four-fifths would decrease the carbon allowance to merely 150Gt and 100Gt respectively, providing a two or three-year grace period at the current rate of emissions.
To keep the Paris temperature goals feasible, the IPCC has calculated that CO2 pollution must be reduced by a minimum of 40% by 2030, and completely eliminated by mid-century.
The new data reveals that the recent decrease in coal usage, one of the major climate victories of the last decade, has unexpectedly accelerated global warming. Although this reduction has led to a slower rise in carbon emissions, it has also diminished the air pollution that buffers Earth from the Sun’s full heat.
Published in the peer-reviewed journal Earth System Science Data, this new study is the first in a series of regular assessments intended to supplement the gaps between IPCC reports, which are released roughly every six years since 1988.