The world is on track to have burned more coal, oil and gas in 2023 than it did in 2022, according to a report by the Global Carbon Project, pumping 1.1% more planet-heating carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at a time when emissions must plummet to stop extreme weather from growing more violent.
Pierre Friedlingstein, a climate scientist at the University of Exeter’s Global Systems Institute and lead author of the study, said: “The impacts of climate change are evident all around us but action to reduce carbon emissions from fossil fuels remains painfully slow.
“It now looks inevitable that we will overshoot the 1.5˚C target of the Paris agreement, and leaders meeting at COP28 will have to agree rapid cuts in fossil fuel emissions even to keep the 2˚C target alive.”
Governments were happy to promote clean energy but had done little to penalise fossil fuels, said Glen Peters, a research director at the climate research institute Cicero, who co-wrote the report.
“It is simply not enough to support clean energy. Policies are also needed to drive fossil fuels out of the energy system,” he added.
The report also found that technology to suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere would have done almost nothing to stop global heating this year. Current levels of technology-based removal – which does not include carbon absorbed by trees – are more than 1m times smaller than current fossil CO2 emissions, the researchers found.