World Emissions
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IEA Net Zero IEA Forecasting GCP Forecast 2022 World Summary

IEA Net Zero

Let's look at the IEA World Energy Outlook 2022.

The Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario (NZE2050, usually just referred to as NZE) maps out a way to achieve a 1.5 °C stabilisation in the rise in global average temperatures, alongside universal access to modern energy by 2030.

To achieve this it states that the world would need to reduce annual emissions to 23 Gt by 2030 and to net zero by 2050.

The chart on the right show the "straight line" routes to those milestones from where we are now.

As you can see, the required rate of decline is extreme compared to the recent rate of growth. We need to remove emissions much more quickly than we've been adding them.

The Keeling Curve and Mauna Loa

The Keeling Curve is a daily record of global atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration maintained by Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.

The chart shows measurements of CO2 concentration at Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii since the late 1950s. (Note the the vertical axis does not include a true zero.)

For a good explanation of the "saw tooth" pattern in the observations see this NASA page.

Other options for timeframe and presentation are available, but I believe this to be one of the best records of observed increases in CO2 concentrations that we have.

World Emissions Forecasts

IEA Forecasting

Since it introduced its NZE Scenario in IEA World Energy Outlook 2020 the IEA has updated its forecast for emissions in 2030. Each year the forecast increases, and each year the task to achieve the goal looks more challenging.

The chart shows the forecasts as they were in 2020 and 2021, each starting from the actual emissions up to that time.

Although the WEO often reports good progress in adding to capacity for renewable energy sources, we have yet to see any actual sustained success in world emissions reduction.

It is not enough to achieve record increases in capacity. We need to see world emissions stop increasing and for them then to reduce rapidly.

Global Carbon Project Emissions Forecast 2023

CO2 emissions from fossil fuels will hit record levels this year, according to the Global Carbon Budget (GCB) 2023.

The chart shows the Global Carbon Project forecast for 2023.

The report projects that total global CO2 emissions (fossil + land use change) will be 40.9 billion tonnes in 2023 - which is about the same as 2022 levels - but this is far from the steep reduction in emissions that is urgently needed to meet global climate targets.

Amongst the other specific points in the report:

  • Regional trends vary dramatically;
  • Global emissions from coal, oil and gas are all projected to increase;
  • About half of all CO2 emitted continues to be absorbed by land and ocean “sinks”, with the rest remaining in the atmosphere where it causes climate change;
  • Atmospheric CO2 levels are projected to average 419.3 parts per million in 2023, 51% above pre-industrial levels.


World Emissions

A warning from the IEA:

The world has not heeded the call for a sustainable recovery from the Covid-19 crisis.

The world must now ensure that the global rebound in emissions in 2021 was a one-off ... keeping alive the possibility of reducing global CO2 emissions to net zero by 2050.

At COP 27 the UN secretary general, António Guterres, said “We are in the fight of our lives and we are losing. Our planet is fast approaching tipping points that will make climate chaos irreversible. We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator”.

Statistical Review of World Energy

The 2023 Statistical Review of World Energy reports that emissions increased again in 2022.

This annual report - previously produced by BP - analyses data on world energy markets from the prior year.

It reports that global energy-related greenhouse gas emissions are still heading in the wrong direction.