New Carbon Budget Study Shows Global Carbon Dioxide Emissions Escalate Beyond Pre-Pandemic Levels in 2023

A Smokestack Emission of an Industrial Exhaust Pipes
Photo by Chris LeBoutillier

As 2023 ends, global fossil carbon dioxide emissions, including cement carbonation, are anticipated to surpass their pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels by 1.4%, according to a new study. Following a modest rise in 2022, the emission levels for 2023 are projected to be around 10.0 Gt C (36.8 Gt CO2), marking a 1.4% increase from 2019. 2023 is set to witness varying trends in CO2 emissions across regions. The European Union and the United States are projected to see a reduction in fossil emissions by 7.4% and 3.0%, respectively. Contrastingly, emissions in China and India are expected to rise by 4.0% and 8.2%, respectively. The rest of the world will experience a minor decrease of 0.4%. The international aviation and shipping sectors are also expected to contribute to the emission increase with a significant 11.9% rise.

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Long-Term Trends in Fossil Fuel Emissions

Over the past decade (2013–2022), 18 countries have successfully reduced their fossil CO2 emissions, contributing around 20% of the world’s CO2 fossil emissions. This trend underscores the varying success of emission reduction efforts globally. CO2 emissions from land use, land-use change, and forestry averaged 1.3±0.7 Gt C yr−1 (4.7±2.6 Gt CO2 yr−1) from 2013 to 2022. The preliminary projection for 2023 indicates a slight decrease. Emissions from deforestation remain a significant global source, while re-afforestation and forestry activities offset a substantial portion of these emissions. The most significant contributors to land-use CO2 emissions have been Brazil, Indonesia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Atmospheric and Oceanic Carbon Dioxide: Current Status and Projections

The atmospheric concentration of CO2 is expected to reach 419.3 parts per million (ppm) in 2023, a 51% increase from pre-industrial levels. The atmospheric CO2 growth rate was 5.2±0.02 Gt C yr−1 over the past decade, with a preliminary estimate of around 5.1 Gt C for 2023. The ocean CO2 sink has grown substantially in the past two decades, especially in the Southern Ocean. It is estimated to be 2.9±0.4 Gt C yr−1 for 2023. The study thoroughly analyzes the global carbon budget, accounting for fossil fuel combustion, land-use changes, and natural sinks. It highlights the complex interplay between anthropogenic activities and the natural carbon cycle. The paper underscores the necessity of understanding and managing these dynamics to effectively address the escalating challenge of climate change.

Conclusion

This study provides insights into the current trends and projections of global CO2 emissions. Compared to pre-pandemic figures, the rising emissions levels in 2023 underline the urgency for more effective international measures in emission reduction and climate change mitigation. The regional disparities in emission trends and the significant role of natural sinks in the global carbon cycle emphasize the complexity of the challenge and the need for coordinated international action.

Climate Crisis 24/7 used generative AI technology to help produce this article, which a human editor at Climate Crisis 24/7 edited. Climate Crisis 24/7 is dedicated to accuracy and transparency; any article that uses AI will be noted. 

Note from the study and authors: This study, Global Carbon Budget 2023 from Earth System Science Data, noted: “The Global Carbon Budget 2023 describes the methodology, main results, and data sets used to quantify the anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and their partitioning among the atmosphere, land ecosystems, and the ocean over the historical period (1750–2023).” These living datasets are updated every year to provide the highest transparency and traceability in the reporting of CO2, the key driver of climate change. This study had the following authors: Pierre Friedlingstein, Michael O’Sullivan, Matthew W. Jones, Robbie M. Andrew, Dorothee C. E. Bakker, Judith Hauck, Peter Landschützer, Corinne Le Quéré, Ingrid T. Luijkx, Glen P. Peters, Wouter Peters, Julia Pongratz, Clemens Schwingshackl, Stephen Sitch, Josep G. Canadell, Philippe Ciais, Robert B. Jackson, Simone R. Alin, Peter Anthoni, Leticia Barbero, Nicholas R. Bates, Meike Becker, Nicolas Bellouin, Bertrand Decharme, Laurent Bopp, Ida Bagus Mandhara Brasika, Patricia Cadule, Matthew A. Chamberlain, Naveen Chandra, Thi-Tuyet-Trang Chau, Frédéric Chevallier, Louise P. Chini, Margot Cronin, Xinyu Dou, Kazutaka Enyo, Wiley Evans, Stefanie Falk, Richard A. Feely, Liang Feng, Daniel J. Ford, Thomas Gasser, Josefine Ghattas, Thanos Gkritzalis, Giacomo Grassi, Luke Gregor, Nicolas Gruber, Özgür Gürses, Ian Harris, Matthew Hefner, Jens Heinke, Richard A. Houghton, George C. Hurtt, Yosuke Iida, Tatiana Ilyina, Andrew R. Jacobson, Atul Jain, Tereza Jarníková, Annika Jersild, Fei Jiang, Zhe Jin, Fortunat Joos, Etsushi Kato, Ralph F. Keeling, Daniel Kennedy, Kees Klein Goldewijk, Jürgen Knauer, Jan Ivar Korsbakken, Arne Körtzinger, Xin Lan, Nathalie Lefèvre, Hongmei Li, Junjie Liu, Zhiqiang Liu, Lei Ma, Greg Marland, Nicolas Mayot, Patrick C. McGuire, Galen A. McKinley, Gesa Meyer, Eric J. Morgan, David R. Munro, Shin-Ichiro Nakaoka, Yosuke Niwa, Kevin M. O’Brien, Are Olsen, Abdirahman M. Omar, Tsuneo Ono, Melf Paulsen, Denis Pierrot, Katie Pocock, Benjamin Poulter, Carter M. Powis, Gregor Rehder, Laure Resplandy, Eddy Robertson, Christian Rödenbeck, Thais M. Rosan, Jörg Schwinger, Roland Séférian, T. Luke Smallman, Stephen M. Smith, Reinel Sospedra-Alfonso, Qing Sun, Adrienne J. Sutton, Colm Sweeney, Shintaro Takao, Pieter P. Tans, Hanqin Tian, Bronte Tilbrook, Hiroyuki Tsujino, Francesco Tubiello, Guido R. van der Werf, Erik van Ooijen, Rik Wanninkhof, Michio Watanabe, Cathy Wimart-Rousseau, Dongxu Yang, Xiaojuan Yang, Wenping Yuan, Xu Yue, Sönke Zaehle, Jiye Zeng, and Bo Zheng

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