Report shows no sign of decreasing CO2 emissions

A new report from the Global Carbon Project shows that global carbon emissions in 2022 remain at record levels, with no sign of decrease.


The report projects total global CO2 emissions of 40.6 billion tonnes (GtCO2) in 2022. This is fuelled by fossil CO2 emissions which are projected to rise one per cent compared to 2021, reaching 36.6 GtCO2 – slightly above the 2019 pre-Covid levels. Emissions from land-use change (such as deforestation) are projected to be 3.9 GtCO2 in 2022.

Projected emissions from coal and oil are above their 2021 levels, with oil being the largest contributor to total emissions growth. The growth in oil emissions can be largely explained by the delayed rebound of international aviation following Covid19 restrictions.

The 2022 picture among major emitters is mixed: emissions are projected to fall in China (0.9 per cent) and the EU (0.8 per cent), and increase in the USA (1.5 per cent) and India (6 per cent), with a 1.7 per cent rise in the rest of the world combined.

The remaining carbon budget for a 50 per cent 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 1230 GtCO2 to limit to 2°C (30 years at 2022 emissions levels).

To reach net zero CO2 emissions by 2050 would now require a decrease of about 1.4 GtCO2 each year, comparable to the observed fall in 2020 emissions resulting from Covid19 lockdowns.

Land and ocean, which absorb and store carbon, continue to take up around half of the CO2 emissions. The ocean and land CO2 sinks are still increasing in response to the atmospheric CO2 increase, although climate change reduced this growth by an estimated four per cent (ocean sink) and 17 per cent (land sink) over the 2012-2021 decade.


This year’s carbon budget shows that the long-term rate of increasing fossil fuel emissions has slowed. The average rise peaked at +3 per cent per year during the 2000s, while growth in the last decade has been about +0.5 per cent per year.

The research team – including Exeter University and the University of East Anglia, CICERO and Ludwig-Maximilian-University Munich – welcomed the slow-down, but said it was ‘far from the emissions decrease we need’.

Professor Pierre Friedlingstein, of Exeter’s Global Systems Institute, led the study. In a statement, he said that although there are ‘some positive signs’, world leaders will have to take meaningful action to have any chance of limiting global warming close to 1.5°C.

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 per cent of global land-use change emissions. Carbon removal via reforestation or new forests counterbalances half of the deforestation emissions.

Professor Corinne Le Quéré, Royal Society Research professor at UEA’s School of Environmental Sciences, said: “If governments respond by turbo charging clean energy investments and planting, not cutting trees, global emissions could rapidly start to fall.

“We are at a turning point and must not allow world events to distract us from the urgent and sustained need to cut our emissions to stabilise the global climate and reduce cascading risks.”

The Global Carbon Budget report projects that atmospheric CO2 concentrations will reach an average of 417.2 parts per million in 2022, more than 50 per cent above pre-industrial levels.

The projection of 40.6 GtCO2 global emissions in 2022 is close to the 40.9 GtCO2 in 2019, which is the highest annual total ever.