Surprise! Carbon Dioxide Emissions Hit New Record In 2022


By Paul Homewood

Near the end of 2020, as the covid-19 pandemic continued to rage, a few climate scientists and energy experts made a prediction. They estimated that emissions from fossil fuels — which had just plummeted thanks to the global pandemic — might never again reach the heights of 2019. Perhaps, they speculated, after over a century of ever more carbon dioxide flowing into the atmosphere, the world had finally reached “peak” emissions.

They were wrong.

According to a report released last month by the Global Carbon Project, carbon emissions from fossil fuels in 2022 are expected to reach 37.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide, the highest ever recorded. That means that despite the continued fallout from the coronavirus pandemic — which caused emissions to drop by over 5 percent in 2020 — CO2 emissions are back and stronger than ever.

Scientists have reacted with dismay. For years before the pandemic, emissions appeared to be leveling off — sparking hope that the world was finally reaching the moment when emissions would start to come down. Then in 2020, “Covid came, there was a huge drop in emissions — and I guess we got a little overexcited,” said Glen Peters, a climate scientist at the Center for International Climate Research in Oslo.

Here’s why researchers were wrong about emissions peaking — and what it means for the future — in three charts:

This statement is very telling, coming as it does from a climate scientist:

“Fossil fuels are still the cheapest way to provide reliable electricity,” said Ken Caldeira, a climate scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science. (While wind and solar can be cheaper than fossil fuels in some cases, their intermittency — and the absence of cheap, big batteries — mean that it’s difficult to build an entire electricity system out of just renewable energy.) “It’s like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs,” Caldeira said. “Developing countries have to put climate concerns second to their economic concerns.”

If anything, the situation is worse than portrayed, as China’s economy has still been hamstrung by brutal Covid lockdowns during 2022.

Anybody with an ounce of common sense would have known this was going to happen. And that emissions will carry on rising while ever developing nations want to grow their economies, or until something better than fossil fuels comes along.

It shows just how divorced from reality those pushing Net Zero agendas really are.

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January 3, 2023 10:01 am

Okay, now plot it against private jets attending COP meetings.

Bryan A
Reply to  ResourceGuy
January 3, 2023 10:11 am

Actually the 3rd graph shows all the explanation necessary.
There is no peaking emissions because of Peking emissions.

Andy Pattullo
Reply to  Bryan A
January 4, 2023 8:00 am

Pure genius.

Hans Erren
Reply to  ResourceGuy
January 3, 2023 10:17 am

NGO attendance to COP

michael hart
Reply to  Hans Erren
January 3, 2023 11:14 am

That’s an awesome graph. Where did the data come from. Were they stupid enough to compile it themselves?

January 3, 2023 10:05 am

The COVID economic shutdown didn’t dent the trend in atmospheric CO2, and Democrats think shutting down the economy will solve climate change. They will destroy the economy and standard of living, only to discover that they are wrong. What a price to pay for nonsense.

Reply to  CO2isLife
January 3, 2023 11:46 am

I suspect that the Democrats think that shutting down the productive portion of the economy will increase Democrat power. Not even the Left really believes their policies will solve anything. It’s entirely about political power.

More Soylent Green!
Reply to  JamesB_684
January 3, 2023 2:19 pm

The left, the Democrats and establishment Republicans don’t want to solve anything. They want to keep issues as fundraisers. If they solved something, they lose power.

For example, when the Democrats controlled the White House, Congress and Senate, did they try to codify abortion rights? Pass immigration reform? Help DACA children?

Reply to  More Soylent Green!
January 5, 2023 6:27 pm

Actually YES, the did. BUT they tried to do it by getting a vote to overturn the filibuster so they would not need any Republican votes.

I am a conservative, and registered Republican. I am not in support of any of those things, DACA was an unconstitutional use of “prosecutorial discretion” immigration reform is just a euphemism for amnesty and a path to citizenship, and abortion rights are no where in the legislative authority provided to congress by the constitution. But then again, 90% of what the federal government does is not authorized by the constitution.

Ron Long
Reply to  CO2isLife
January 3, 2023 2:20 pm

You’re onto something there, CO2islife. Look at the gigatons per year chart, where the CO2 emissions went from 9 gigatons in 1960 to (estimated) 37.5 gigatons in 2022 (a 4 times increase). Roughly in the same time period the atmospheric CO2 level went from 300 ppm to 410 ppm (a 0.4 increase, so emissions up an order of magnitude over atmosphere). There is a disconnect in the movement of CO2 into the atmosphere, maybe buffering by other processes? Like greening of the earth? Sea water? Carbonate mineral deposition? There is a lot we don’t know, but nothing scary yet.

Reply to  Ron Long
January 3, 2023 4:06 pm

With no units on your 0.4 increase, how is anyone expected to know what the heck you are talking about?

I believe it has been well accepted (as an explanation, anyway) that CO2 sinks have been increasing at a rate of about 50% of human emissions. Explaining just why that value would be a better trick.

Reply to  AndyHce
January 3, 2023 4:36 pm

The greater the difference CO2 levels in the water and in the air, the faster CO2 will go into the water. Natural buffering in the oceans is absorbing most of the CO2 that makes its way into the water. As a result, the difference between water and air is getting greater.
As CO2 levels increase in the air, the number of places where plants can grow is increasing. More plants growing faster, absorbs more CO2 from the air.
Chemical weathering also increases as the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere increases.

These and other factors are already known. They are not well enough known to apply a precise number to how much CO2 they are removing from the atmosphere.

Andy Pattullo
Reply to  Ron Long
January 4, 2023 8:03 am

Good point but human derived CO2 emissions are only about 5% of overall CO2 flux into the atmosphere and the atmosphere is a very small part of the entire CO2 reservoir.

J Boles
January 3, 2023 10:09 am

And guess what? If you talk to these climate alarmists, the average people not the big stars, they talk about CC, you know just pay it lip service. I learned to ask them if they have solar panels on the roof or yard…no they never do, what HYPOCRITES!

Sean Galbally
January 3, 2023 10:14 am

So what. Man made carbon dioxide at 0.04% of greenhouse gases has an insignificant effect on global warming. We should used cleaned up emissions and burn fossil fuels to avoid poverty until we have viable alternative energy sources. Climate has always changed and always will. We should continue to adapt to what we have as we always have done. Net zero is an unnecessary disaster and achieves nothing but poverty

Reply to  Sean Galbally
January 3, 2023 11:22 am

Man made carbon dioxide at 0.04% of greenhouse gases

I know you didn’t mean it this way but 0.04% is the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Even if we accept the man-made portion since 1960 is 100 ppm i.e. there are no other contributing factors, man-made CO2 is only 0.01%.

And that 0.01% is going to kill us all sometime in the future after scientists have collected their nice pensions and no longer have to work for a living

Reply to  Redge
January 3, 2023 4:10 pm

Not that there is evidence of any danger but it is not that 0.01%,or rather that 33+% increase, it is the total amount that is assumed to be dangerous.

January 3, 2023 10:14 am

Now plot that against total CO2 emissions from ALL sources.

Peta of Newark
Reply to  schmoozer
January 3, 2023 11:10 am

They’ll never do that because most of the CO2 is coming from out of arable farmland, also overgrazing, swamp/wetland drainage and (de)forestry

The significant problem they have is that ‘everyone taking on a carbohydrate diet‘ will increase atmospheric CO2 levels.
It is why the Mauna Loa curve didn’t flinch during lockdown. Maybe folks stopped driving & flying but they kept on eating.
But farmers kept on ploughing, tilling, cutting, burning, Nitrogen fertilising, No-till-Lo-Tilling and Rounding Up

It’s impossible that anything could be got more wrong.
It’s the exact same mistake every previous attempt at Settled Civilisation made – and where are any of them now?
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust and so will we be unless a few people wake up to the realities Soil Erosion
The Significant Remedy they have (everybody go vegetarian) will only accelerate that demise.
As if it weren’t going fast enough already – does a $4 Trillion annual healthcare bill not tell anybody anything?

William Howard
Reply to  Peta of Newark
January 3, 2023 11:48 am

most of the CO2 is coming from the 8 billion people on the planet breathing along with trillions of animals – Richard LIndzen, former head of MIT’s climatology dept. notes that each human emits 2 lbs of CO2 daily (no telling how much comes from animals) – and the is why the WEF crowd wants to dramatically reduce the number of humans on the planet –

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  William Howard
January 3, 2023 12:28 pm

That’s 8 billion people, 365 daays at 1kg per day, so 2.9 billion tonnes or about 3gigatonnes, or 2.5% of the total

Reply to  Peta of Newark
January 3, 2023 12:47 pm

yes the daily and seasonal cycles of soils are clearly visible. Time of tillage. Then daily oxidation of exposed soil organics(carbon) in former wetlands. I think it’s not controversial.

The collinearities are striking between soil disturbance, oxidation, drying, and whatnot.

Reply to  JCM
January 3, 2023 12:55 pm

Even UN initiatives to combat desertification use the same illustration, issued through CNBC.

January 3, 2023 10:34 am

“CO2 emissions are back and stronger than ever.”

Humans haven’t gone away and as far as the misanthropists are concerned, that’s the problem

Last edited 5 months ago by strativarius
Bruce Cobb
January 3, 2023 10:51 am

OMG, just look at all that dihydrogen monoxide FILTH spewing from that smokestack! It’s an outrage.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
January 3, 2023 11:07 am

I agree; It’s the major GHG & should be kept in the ground !!
I’m so enraged, I feel the need to glue myself to something … using fish glue.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
January 3, 2023 3:02 pm

But CO2 is invisible….is the temp going up along with CO2? No?….well I don’t understand…..WTH is goin’ on? All the scientists said CO2 goes up and temp follows up CO2..

Frank from NoVA
January 3, 2023 11:06 am

Revised below

Last edited 5 months ago by Frank from NoVA
Gary Pearse
January 3, 2023 11:07 am

“It shows just how divorced from reality those pushing Net Zero agendas really are.”

Their speculation on CO2 peaking was highschool curve projection and hope that their prayers would be answered. This sums up the juvenile level of sophistication of all their ‘science’. After predictions of the global temperature anomaly for 2005 that proved to be 300% too high, they shifted the goalposts
from 1950 to 1850 to bankroll 0.6°C of natural recovery from the LIA and shrunk the ‘danger’ threshold to +1.5°C to ‘correct’ their forecast! This opened the door to fiddling temperatures wholesale.

They were not able to cook the CO2 content of air and went to prayer, desperate to report a win for their CO2 mitigation efforts that have cost over $4 trillion! This is huge! This will take the wind out of their sails!

Reply to  Gary Pearse
January 3, 2023 4:14 pm

No, it will, if anything, make them huff and puff harder.

Frank from NoVA
January 3, 2023 11:11 am

Did anyone else notice the Washington Post’s sleight of hand in going from

‘…a few climate scientists and energy experts made a prediction.’, to

‘Scientists have reacted with dismay.’?

michael hart
January 3, 2023 11:11 am

So there was some good news, even though we knew it would happen.

Even better, we know that the alarmists are going to run out of ever more hysterical words in the English language before it stops rising.
Trebles all round!

Hoyt Clagwell
January 3, 2023 11:23 am

This all appears to be “projections” rather than anything actually being measured. What is the concentration measured at Mauna Loa now?

Reply to  Hoyt Clagwell
January 3, 2023 9:50 pm

The road to the observatory was cut off by lava flow so nobody knows.

January 3, 2023 11:23 am

“Scientists” like this continue to give science a bad name.

January 3, 2023 11:41 am

The Earths plant life very much appreciates the additional life-giving and wholly beneficial CO2 being added to environment.

John Pickens
January 3, 2023 11:43 am

it’s difficult to build an entire electricity system out of just renewable energy”

Not just difficult, IMPOSSIBLE!
Please provide a single example of one.
I’ll wait.

John Oliver
Reply to  John Pickens
January 3, 2023 1:19 pm

Exactly! We should be asking Al Gore , John Kerry and (sadly E. Musk) plus the entire COP crowd why hav’nt they taken all the Billions they have at their disposal and build some “demonstration towns” run by “renewables” . You would need at least 2, one in the sunny south and another one way up north that the one way down south would also have to supply through those super conductor transmission lines ( that they have been promising will be invented any day now)

January 3, 2023 11:50 am

Great news – we need lots more CO2 – current atmospheric CO2 at around 410ppm is way below the sweet spot required by plants for optimal development – I personally thank China for its ongoing efforts to green the planet

David Dibbell
January 3, 2023 1:23 pm

Scientists have reacted with dismay.”

If that’s the reaction to the emission data, then we need different scientists that don’t operate on emotion.

Reply to  David Dibbell
January 4, 2023 12:42 am

REAL scientists have reacted with ……..”I think we got it terribly wrong!”

Last edited 5 months ago by SteveG
January 3, 2023 1:23 pm

The first graph showing the mass increase per year shows exactly why there can be no increase in temperature caused by CO2. As the mass increases and the input energy remains the same it is impossible for the temperature to increase.

January 3, 2023 1:41 pm

If you graph CO2 emissions against atmospheric CO2 concentration there is very little relationship, anyway.
Emissions rise and fall with global prosperity.
But atmospheric CO2 concentration keeps rising at the same rate.

This seems to be evidence that changes in natural emissions dwarf all anthropogenic emissions.

John in NZ
Reply to  MCourtney
January 3, 2023 2:37 pm

Hi MCourtney.

“This seems to be evidence that changes in natural emissions dwarf all anthropogenic emissions.”

It certainly is, but I think the situation is even worse.

If decreasing emissions caused a decrease in the CO2 growth then an increase in emissions should cause an increase in CO2 growth.

This dropbox link is to a graph showing there is no relationship between change in emissions and change in CO2 growth.

I think CO2 in the atmosphere is controlled by the equilibrium relationship between atmospheric and oceanic CO2. When the world gets warmer, the imbalance in the equilibrium gets greater and the rate of CO2 increase goes up. Emissons have nothing to do with it.

It is possible to use the change in temperature to predict whether CO2 growth will increase or decrease.

It isn’t possible to use change in emissions to predict change in CO2 growth.

January 3, 2023 2:25 pm

You can always count on the WaPo to use a scary image to push their lies and distortions, just to be sure the reader understands the headline. One of their favorites is just below the byline of this article: an ugly exhaust stack releasing a cloud of (totally harmless) water vapor (AKA steam).

At least the cloud is not back-lit, which would have made the cloud look darker and scarier.

January 3, 2023 2:25 pm

So Mauna Loa graphs of atmospheric CO2 have changed ?
or didnt the dismayed scientists get that far
of did Shannon Osaka just live up to her Zietgeist nametag

Henry Pool
January 3, 2023 2:43 pm
January 3, 2023 2:44 pm

Yet the planet is not warming. Pause in global temperature increase is at 8 years 2 months last I looked. Or should I say last Lord Moncton demonstrated. But they will clasp their hands over their ears ” I can’t hear you, I can’t hear you!”

Louis Hunt
January 3, 2023 3:03 pm

The third chart shows that China’s CO2 emissions are more than double that of the U.S. and is greater than the emissions of India, Europe, and the U.S. combined. What good does it do for the West to reduce emissions and destroy their economies if China and India are simply going to fill the gap and then some?

Reply to  Louis Hunt
January 3, 2023 4:19 pm

Do good for whom? is the question.

Reply to  Louis Hunt
January 3, 2023 5:53 pm

What good does it do? Obviously, it does no good if you do not believe that increased levels of CO2 are harmful to the environment. 

However, if you believe that CO2 is a pollutant, then any reduction, however small, is good.

As you mentioned, the graph in the article shows that China currently emits more CO2 per year than the US, Europe and India combined. If there were no scare about the negative effects of increased CO2 emissions, then both the US and Europe would each probably emit as much CO2 as China currently does.

I’ve often read comments on WUWT that ask: ‘What’s the point of Australia reducing its CO2 emissions when they are only a very small fraction of the total, world-wide CO2 emissions?”

If one is concerned about plastic waste and trash affecting the environment, it would be foolish to argue: “What is the point of my refraining from dumping a few plastic bottles and plastic bags in the forest, or the river, or the sea? The total amount of plastic waste in the environment amounts to billions of tonnes. What difference would it make if I dump just a kilogram of plastic waste, now and again?

Reply to  Vincent
January 3, 2023 11:54 pm

A better analogy to plastic bags is nuclear bombs – if you think AGW is the end of the world.

If one is concerned about nuclear armageddon and fallout affecting the environment, it would be foolish to argue: “What is the point of my refraining from launching our weapons? The total amount of nuclear bombs in the strike will already kill all life as we know it. What difference would it make if I kill a few more barren stones, now and again?

The sensible question would be, “What can I do to save the world?
You seem to think that feeling less guilty is of more importance than doing anything about the environment.
Doing your ineffectual bit may may you feel special but you’ve been no help to anyone.

January 3, 2023 4:31 pm

Also of interest, over the past several decades, even as emissions increased, land biomass uptake has increased from 25% to 29% of emissions.

Graph by Robert Rohde.

2022 land biosphere carbon uptake is estimated at 3.4 gigatons. 5.1 gigatons water consumed in photosynthesis, for a dry mass increase of 8.5, 28.3 wet mass, amounting to 24.9 km^3 of water captured, possibly more than sea level rise from global warming.

January 3, 2023 4:46 pm

Are those graphs calculated amounts of CO2 ? They don’t look much like the measurements from Hawaii

January 3, 2023 5:16 pm

Oh, noes! It’s worse than we thought!

Edward Katz
January 3, 2023 6:21 pm

This article is yet another reminder that renewable energy sources like wind and solar just can’t provide the large amounts of power needed to run a modern economy, and until high-capacity storage batteries are developed, these alternates will continue to play second fiddle to fossil fuels.

Reply to  Edward Katz
January 4, 2023 2:04 am

“until high-capacity storage batteries are developed,”

They have been developed & come in several convenient packages …

  1. Solid state ( comes in Black or Brown, very woke ) – Trade name ‘Coal’
  2. Liquid – Trade name ‘Oil’
  3. Vapour – Trade name ‘Gas’
  4. Ultra high-capacity Solid state – Trade name ‘Nuclear’
Andy Pattullo
Reply to  Edward Katz
January 4, 2023 8:10 am

To be clear sun and wind may be renewable but solar farms and windmills are not. Further they are contributing substantially to rising CO2 emissions through mining, manufacturing, transport, installation, land use changes and whatever feeble efforts are made in decommissioning.

John Pickens
Reply to  Edward Katz
January 4, 2023 10:52 am

When you add the energy cost to produce backup batteries for wind and solar systems, you exceed the lifetime energy production possible by such systems. It is an elaborate perpetual motion machine, with the initial energy of production being the “hidden spring” common to many fraudulent perpetual motion machines demonstrated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Tom Abbott
January 4, 2023 2:37 am

From the article: Scientists thought carbon [dioxide] emissions had peaked. They’ve never been higher.”

“Never” is a long time.

The facts are, CO2 *has* been higher in the past. Much higher. Try 7,000ppm verses the 420ppm today.

January 4, 2023 3:02 am

No temperature graph? I suppose the difficulty is which temp graph to use, Al Gore’s, Met office, NOAA?

Barnes Moore
January 4, 2023 3:10 am

And human contribution to atmospheric co2 concentration is still in the 3-5% range, correct?

January 4, 2023 6:25 am

Carbon Dioxide Emissions Hit New Record In 2022
My corn, soybeans, roses, lawn and oak trees are all grateful. Keep up the good work.

January 4, 2023 7:14 am

Climate whiners need to see the largest emitters chart. EU-27 and USA have been downtrending since the turn of the century — China is responsible for increasing emission — India is increasing, but nothing like China. WU-27 and USA have been downtrending for 20 years.

Andy Pattullo
January 4, 2023 7:59 am

All good news: rising CO2 emissions, rising living standards, less hunger, more freedom, modest warming, enhanced plant growth, more overall life in the biosphere, underdeveloped countries developing and human society flourishing. Anyone shedding tears over this news is probably not on the side of human society.

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