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2023 Sets Record for Highest Global Fossil Fuel Emissions

fossil fuel emission
“Emissions of carbon dioxide from oil, gas, and coal increased by 1% in 2023, as reported during the U.N. climate summit.”

Fossil Fuels and the Combustion

Producing and using fossil fuels causes air pollution that harms our health and releases gases that worsen climate change. Everything, from powering our homes to daily car use, relies on fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas.

Burning fossil fuels occurs when we use them for energy. The fuel mixes with air during this process, creating carbon dioxide (CO2). This CO2 enters the air, warming the world and contributing to climate change because it acts like a blanket, trapping heat in the atmosphere.

Global Emissions

Global carbon emissions from fossil fuels have once again reached unprecedented levels in 2023, as reported by the Global Carbon Project. This organization, composed of scientists from over 90 institutions worldwide, conducted the research. Experts predict that in 2023, the world will release over 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide, with almost 37 billion coming from burning fossil fuels. This marks a 1.1% increase from 2022 and a 1.5% increase from before the pandemic, signifying a ten-year period of steady emissions.

Connection between Carbon Emissions and Climate Change

Greenhouse Effect:
  • Carbon emissions, mainly carbon dioxide (CO2), intensify the greenhouse effect.
  • Increased atmospheric COtraps heat, leading to rising global temperatures.
Climate Change Impact:
  • Alters weather patterns, causing extreme events.
  • Accelerates ice melt, raising sea levels.
  • Threatens ecosystems and biodiversity, posing challenges to global stability.

Diverse Sources of Carbon Emissions and International Commitments

Not only does burning fossil fuels contribute to emissions, but also deforestation and changes to the Earth’s surface can release greenhouse gases. A report suggests that emissions from landscape changes may have decreased slightly recently, but accurate measurement is challenging, and the results are uncertain.

Before COP28, the United States and China, responsible for over a third of global greenhouse gas emissions, agreed to increase their use of solar, wind, and other renewable energy instead of fossil fuels. The agreement isn’t mandatory and doesn’t outline how the countries will ensure they achieve this goal.

As per the Global Carbon Project, approximately half of the CO2 released is absorbed by land and oceans. The remaining portion stays in the air, contributing to climate change. This year, over a million times more carbon dioxide entered the atmosphere due to fossil fuel.

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