Global CO2 emissions have been flat for a decade, new data reveals

Global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuels and cement have rebounded by 4.9% this year, new estimates suggest, following a Covid-related dip of 5.4% in 2020.

The Global Carbon Project (GCP) projects that fossil emissions in 2021 will reach 36.4bn tonnes of CO2 (GtCO2), only 0.8% below their pre-pandemic high of 36.7GtCO2 in 2019.

The researchers say they “were expecting some sort of rebound in 2021” as the global economy bounced back from Covid-19, but that it was “bigger than expected”.

While fossil emissions are expected to return to near-record levels, the study also reassesses historical emissions from land-use change, revealing that global CO2 output overall may have been effectively flat over the past decade.

The 2021 GCP almost halves the estimate of net emissions from land-use change over the past two years – and by an average of 25% over the past decade.

These changes come from an update to underlying land-use datasets that lower estimates of cropland expansion, particularly in tropical regions. Emissions from land-use change in the new GCP dataset have been decreasing by around 4% per year over the past decade, compared to an increase of 1.8% per year in the prior version. 

However, the GCP authors caution that uncertainties in land-use change emissions remain large and “this trend remains to be confirmed”.

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Author: HP McLovincraft

Seeker of rabbit holes. Pessimist. Libertine. Contrarian. Your huckleberry. Possibly true tales of sanity-blasting horror also known as abject reality. Prepare yourself. Veteran of a thousand psychic wars. I have seen the fnords. Deplatformed on Tumblr and Twitter.

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