1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites
ClimateGlobal issues

COP27: Fossil fuel carbon emissions to hit all-time high

November 11, 2022

Pandemic recovery and an uptick in the use of coal amid the Ukraine war are significant drivers behind carbon emissions.

Emissions rise from the smokestacks at the Jeffrey Energy Center coal power plant as the suns sets Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, near Emmett, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Emissions from coal use have increased this year because of turmoil in energy marketsImage: Charlie Riedel/AP/picture alliance

Climate scientists warned Friday that harmful carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels would rise 1% more this year, nudging up to an all-time high.

Scientists from the Global Carbon Project said at COP27, the UN's annual climate summit being held in Egypt until 18 November, that emissions declined in 2020 because of restrictions imposed during the COVID pandemic.

But the trend didn't hold, and scientists said the decline in 2020 of -5.2% because of the pandemic was quickly erased by a 5.6% increase in 2021.

Global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels have grown 0.6% per year over the last 10 years.

Emissions from coal to potentially exceed 2014 peak and hit new high

The figures of the Global Carbon Project study and other findings were published in a report Friday by researchers at the Center for International Climate Research (CICERO) based in Norway.

The report said coal was still the main source of carbon dioxide emissions and emissions from coal use were potentially going to exceed the peak from 2014 this year.

Emissions from oil use were also expected to grow this year because of an increase in international aviation after the pandemic, though oil use remained below 2019 levels.

Emissions driven by war in Ukraine, recovery from COVID

Glen Peters, research director at CICERO and one of the authors of the study on carbon projections, explained that emissions from coal and gas were driven by events in Ukraine, whereas emissions from oil were more driven by the recovery from COVID-19 pandemic.

Peters told AFP that emissions were currently 5% above what they were when the Paris Agreement was signed. "You have to ask: When are they going to go down?" he said.

Global leaders agreed to contain global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7°F) above pre-industrial levels in 2016, but have fallen woefully short of committing to actions to halt warming.

AFP material contributed to the report. 

Roshni Majumdar Roshni is a writer at DW's online breaking news desk and covers stories from around the world.@RoshniMaj