Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

A firefighter combats a wildfire in France

A firefighter sprays water toward flames at a night wildfire in Saumos on Bordeaux's western outskirts, southwestern France on September 12, 2022. (Photo: Philippe Lopez/AFP via Getty Images)

'Deeply Depressing' Study Shows Planet-Warming Emissions Continue to Rise

"If current emissions levels persist, there is now a 50% chance that global warming of 1.5°C will be exceeded in nine years."

Jake Johnson

Rapid and drastic cuts to global greenhouse gas emissions are necessary to curb warming and prevent the most dire climate scenarios from becoming reality.

But a new study released Friday by the Global Carbon Project finds "no sign of the decrease that is urgently needed" as emissions remain at record levels this year, with fossil fuel giants and governments plowing ahead with new extraction efforts that could push critical climate targets out of reach.

Scientists with the Global Carbon Project estimate that total CO2 emissions will reach 40.6 billion tonnes this year—driven by rising pollution from fossil fuels—and will likely continue to rise in 2023 without bold action from policymakers worldwide.

"If current emissions levels persist, there is now a 50% chance that global warming of 1.5°C will be exceeded in nine years," the researchers note. "Projected emissions from coal and oil are above their 2021 levels, with oil being the largest contributor to total emissions growth."

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

Professor Pierre Friedlingstein of Exeter's Global Systems Institute, the lead author of the new study, lamented in a statement that "we see yet another rise in global fossil CO2 emissions" in 2022 "when we need a rapid decline."

"There are some positive signs," Friedlingstein added, pointing to the slowing growth of fossil fuel emissions over the long term, "but leaders meeting at COP27 will have to take meaningful action if we are to have any chance of limiting global warming close to 1.5°C."

That increasingly imperiled warming target remains a focus as world leaders gather in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt for the annual United Nations climate conference, a key opportunity for nations to commit to collective action against a climate emergency that is wreaking havoc worldwide.

Climate campaigners warn the opportunity is at risk of being squandered as Big Oil lobbyists swarm the conference and gas producers use the event to push their dirty energy source as a "transition fuel."

Professor Corinne Le Quéré of the University of East Anglia, a co-author of the Global Carbon Project study, said that if governments respond to worsening climate chaos "by turbocharging 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 stabilize the global climate and reduce cascading risks," Le Quéré warned.

Allowing planetary heating to exceed 1.5°C above preindustrial levels by the end of the century would spell disaster for large swaths of the planet as trends already seen around the world—from increasingly extreme weather events to species extinctions to rapidly melting sea ice—would accelerate, potentially locking in irreversible climate damage.

Professor Mark Maslin of University College London told The Guardian that the Global Carbon Project study is "deeply depressing."

"It sends a clear message to the leaders at COP27—the world needs to have significant cuts in global emissions in 2023 if we are to have any chance to keep climate change to 1.5°C," said Maslin.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Citing 'Unprecedented Crisis,' House Dems Push Biden to Protect Haitians From Deportation

Warning of "mortal danger," one advocacy group argues extending and redesignating Temporary Protected Status for Haitians "is a matter of life and death."

Jessica Corbett ·


The Pentagon Failed Another Audit, Yet Congress Is Poised to Approve $847 Billion Military Budget

"This isn't using our taxpayer dollars wisely," said the National Priorities Project. "It's robbing programs that we need, like the discontinued child tax credit that cut child poverty by half."

Kenny Stancil ·


Experts Warn 'Doomsday Scenario' for Colorado River Basin Possible in 2023

"The problem with massive projects like Lake Powell and the Glen Canyon Dam," said one climate journalist, "is they were engineered for a climate that no longer exists."

Julia Conley ·


Starbucks Violated Law and Must Bargain With Union in Seattle: NLRB

The coffee giant, which plans to appeal, "is continuing its aggressive anti-union campaign against workers by delaying, confusing, and flat-out refusing to bargain with them," said Starbucks Workers United.

Jessica Corbett ·


Three UK Universities Ban Fossil Fuel Industry Recruiters From Campus

"It is vital that our universities show with actions, not words, that they are taking the side of climate justice, and not of the industries driving us deeper into a climate crisis," said one campaigner.

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo