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Global Carbon Dioxide Emissions Reach Record Highs in 2022

Efforts to meet the agreements of the Paris Accord are falling short according to a recently published report by the International Energy Agency (IEA). Though significant advancements have been made in the deployment of renewable energy systems and other carbon-cutting technologies, global CO2 emissions continue to rise.

Signed in 2015, the Paris Accord is an international agreement among 196 parties dedicated to limiting the average global temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. To achieve this goal, member parties have agreed to take various measures and actions to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, among other things.

The IEA’s report indicates that, while the goals of the Paris Accord are still within reach, the pathways that have been created to facilitate such success have narrowed due to rising emissions from global energy production.

The problem, according to the IEA, is a global one, as emissions levels have grown since the pandemic. According to the report, global energy-borne carbon emissions reached a new high in 2022, with 37 billion tonnes of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere. This represents a 1 percent rise when compared to pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels.

The report points to several factors that have led to increased emissions, primarily the pandemic and global energy crisis created by the war in Ukraine. Energy security concerns, especially in Europe, have left countries to increase the production and/or use of more emissive fossil fuels, like coal, as a substitute for Russian natural gas. As a result, the IEA expects fossil fuel use to be 110 percent higher in 2030 than what is required to meet the goals of the Paris Accord.

However, the IEA does anticipate fossil fuel use to peak in this decade as renewable technologies, like solar power and electrification of cars and other fossil fuel-intensive sectors, are made more efficient, economical, and scalable for widespread deployment.

Given the condition of emissions globally, the IEA encourages several actions that governments could take to reverse the trend. The general theme of the prescriptions involves making more ambitious targets, especially in countries that largely use fossil fuels and have the resources to take greater strides.

While still on target, global action to reduce GHG emissions like CO2 emissions is required now more than ever to ensure that the agreements of the Paris Accord are met.

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