Our carbon budget is shrinking: According to a study, the remaining budget has halved within three years. The new values show an urgent need for action.
New data on the climate crisis paints a bleak picture: According to a study presented at the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, man-made global warming already reached an increase of 1.14 degrees Celsius in the decade from 2013 to 2022 compared to the pre-industrial level. For the period from 2010 to 2019, the value was 1.07 degrees.
The scientists warn that warming is now increasing at a rate of more than 0.2 degrees per decade. For the year 2022, the journal “Earth System Science Data” assumes an increase of 1.26 degrees since pre-industrial times.
Extremes are increasing
As a result, an intensification of many weather and climate extremes can be observed, in particular more frequent and more intense heat extremes and heavy precipitation in most regions of the world.
“However, rapid and strict reductions in greenhouse gas emissions could halve warming rates over the next 20 years,” say the scientists. The latest data showed that the increase in global greenhouse gas emissions had already slowed somewhat.
According to the 50-strong team, there should be annually updated values for important climate indicators based on the methodology of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This should be seen in addition to evaluations by other institutions such as the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), whose annual data usually only focused on the previous year and were based on slightly different data sets and analyses.
The IPCC remains the authoritative source for scientific information on the state of the climate, although the processing time for assessments is five to ten years. This information gap should be filled with more quickly updated information, according to a statement from the lead University of Leeds. The “Indicators of Global Climate Change” platform should provide up-to-date information on the most important climate indicators every year.
“We need to change our policies and approaches in light of the latest knowledge about the state of the climate system,” says project coordinator Piers Forster. “Time is no longer on our side. Access to up-to-date information is vital.” According to the experts, neither the speed nor the scope of climate measures are currently sufficient to limit the escalation of climate-related risks.
Carbon budget recently halved
According to the analysis presented, the remaining carbon budget – the amount of carbon dioxide that can be emitted to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees with a probability of more than 50 percent – has halved within three years. According to calculations by the IPCC, the remaining carbon budget in 2020 was around 500 gigatons of carbon dioxide. At the beginning of 2023, it was only half as much at around 250 gigatons of carbon dioxide.
The UN climate conference in Bonn is preparing for the world climate conference in Dubai at the end of the year. There will also be an inventory of progress made in limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees compared to pre-industrial times. In view of previous efforts to protect the climate, this goal is considered increasingly unrealistic.
The US climate agency NOAA had just announced record values for CO2 in the atmosphere at its measuring station in Hawaii. The average value for May 2023 was the highest monthly value ever recorded. Accordingly, a CO2 concentration of 424.0 ppm (parts of CO2 per million parts) was measured, around 3 ppm more than in the same month last year. The values are generally particularly high in May. The CO2 level is now 50 percent higher than before the start of the industrial age, according to the authority.
“Every year we see the carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere rising as a direct result of human activity,” said agency chief Rick Spinrad. Burning of fossil fuels for transport and power generation, cement production, deforestation and agriculture are some of the reasons for this increase.
The greenhouse gas CO2 traps heat radiated from the earth’s surface that would otherwise escape into space. As a result, the atmosphere heats up. Extreme weather events such as heat waves, droughts, forest fires or precipitation are increasing.
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