But a close look at energy and emissions data around the world shows that there are a few bright spots of good news, and a lot of potential progress ahead.
For example, renewable sources make up a growing fraction of the energy supply, and they’re getting cheaper every year. Countries are setting new targets for emissions reductions, and unprecedented public investments could unlock more technological advances.
Read on to find out why there are at least a few reasons to be hopeful.
While emissions reached new heights in 2022, the peak is in sight.
Emissions from fossil-fuel sources were higher than ever in 2022, according to data from the Global Carbon Project. Global growth year over year was just over 1%, continuing a rebound from a 2020 low caused by the covid-19 pandemic. Overall, emissions have doubled in about the last 40 years.
But while emissions grew globally, many countries have already seen their own plateau or begin to decrease. US remissions peaked in 2005 and have declined by just over 10% since then. Russia, Japan, and the European Union have also seen emissions plateau.
Global emissions are expected to reach their peak in about 2025, according to the International Energy Agency. Reaching maximum annual emissions is a significant milestone, the first step in turning the metaphorical ship around for greenhouse gases.
But emissions are still growing in some countries, including China (the world’s current leading emitter) and India, both of which have growing populations and economies. China’s increase has been particularly sharp, with emissions roughly doubling over the past 15 years.
China’s government has pledged that the country will reach its emissions peak by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions before 2060. The peak could come even sooner, in 2025 or before, according to analysis by CarbonBrief. The nation is deploying renewables at record speed, roughly quadrupling installations over the past decade.