Nov 4, 2021 - Energy & Environment

The global carbon emissions rebound of 2021

Remaining global carbon budget
Data: Global Carbon Project; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Global carbon emissions in 2021 are on course to rebound to near pre-pandemic levels following an unprecedented drop in 2020, according to the Global Carbon Project, an international research consortium.

Why it matters: While the past few days have brought a slew of commitments to reduce the use of fossil fuels and cut emissions, in the real world, emissions are not showing signs of slowing.

Details: In the U.S. and EU, emissions decreased in 2021 relative to pre-pandemic, but they increased in India and China, in particular.

  • The researchers from three universities in the U.K. and U.S., along with a Norwegian institute, warn that an additional increase in emissions could occur in 2022 if emissions from cars and planes recover to pre-pandemic levels, and coal is not curtailed.

By the numbers: China's emissions are projected to rise by 4% compared to 2020, reaching 5.5% above 2019 levels, comprising a third of global emissions.

  • Emissions in India are projected to rise by 12.6% compared to 2020 levels, reaching 4.4% above 2019.
  • For the U.S., emissions are projected to bounce up by 7.6% compared to 2020, but be 3.7% below 2019 levels, making up 14% of global emissions.

What we're watching: The researchers estimate that to have at a 50% chance of limiting warming to 1.5°C by 2100 relative to preindustrial levels, nations can only emit about another 11 years worth of emissions, assuming they continue at current rates, the new data shows.

Go deeper: Many of world's poorest nations already experience acute harm from climate change

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