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Carbon Dioxide Emissions Hit New Record In 2022

January 3, 2023

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.

  1. Tim Leeney permalink
    January 3, 2023 12:42 pm

    Just as well that “emissions” are not driving climate change. But when will the clowns admit it?

    • Mad Mike permalink
      January 3, 2023 4:21 pm

      Has anybody actually measured the CO2 levels in the atmosphere lately? These graphs are just about estimates of emissions but surely it should be measured against and actually change in CO2 levels. It would of course spoil the alarmist’s story if the perceived emissions and CO2 increase or decrease didn’t tally.

      • Broadlands permalink
        January 3, 2023 4:54 pm

        There is a delay between global CO2 emissions and what is in the atmosphere, primarily due to the equilibration with the land, the oceans and the biosphere.

      • catweazle666 permalink
        January 3, 2023 5:02 pm

        This is an interesting site, good for hours of fun.

        Click the “earth” label in the lower LH corner for menu.,0.00,548/loc=-4.522,12.499

        You can move the location, it is instructive to note that the concentrations don’t tally with where you would expect them to.

        I’d be interested to know where they got their CO2 data from…

      • Mad Mike permalink
        January 3, 2023 6:06 pm

        Where would you expect them to be? If I’ve interpreted it right, the highest concentrations are just south of the equator and not over industrialised land mass. I wouldn’t expect them to get readings in the middle of oceans unless satellites can measure it. How do you see it?

      • catweazle666 permalink
        January 3, 2023 8:56 pm

        Don’t forget that darker red represents lower concentration and lighter cream to light green represents higher concentrations (somewhat counter-intuitive).

        Also try playing with the date, changing from summer to winter.

        I assume the results must be derived from satellite readings, otherwise there would not be any results over the oceans.

        All in all, after fiddling with it for some time, all I can say is that I’m not much wiser than I was to start with, but I’m pretty sure that most of what I’ve gleaned from “climate science” bears little relation to reality.

    • watersider permalink
      January 3, 2023 7:43 pm

      Why show a picture of water vapour ?

  2. David Calder permalink
    January 3, 2023 1:02 pm

    The emissions are almost all natural and very likely link to natural warming releasing them from ocean carbon sinks…. anyway such will dwarf anything puny humans can manage.

    • HotScot permalink
      January 3, 2023 1:21 pm

      As far as I can gather these calculations, probably based around the crude assumption that burning A produces B, are the total CO2 outputs of mankind, which represent about 3% of the total.

      When you examine the Mauna Loa data, that supposed 5% fall in mankind’s CO2 emissions was completely lost and simply doesn’t show up on the Keeling curve.

    • Broadlands permalink
      January 3, 2023 4:57 pm

      The current equilibrated value is about 420 ppm. Two-thirds of that is natural…if 280 ppm is considered pre-industrial.

      • catweazle666 permalink
        January 3, 2023 5:06 pm

        In fact 96% is natural, the 4% anthropogenic CO2 is subject to the cycle just like the natural CO2 is.

      • Broadlands permalink
        January 3, 2023 5:19 pm

        If 96% of what’s in the atmosphere is natural that would represent ~403 of the current 420 ppm…leaving only 17 ppm from our use of fossil fuels for energy since pre-industrial time. That doesn’t seem to fit reality.

      • catweazle666 permalink
        January 3, 2023 8:22 pm

        Are you still contending that all anthropogenic CO2 molecules ever emitted remain in the atmosphere and are not subsumed along with the 96% of natural CO2 removed from the system during the length of the cycle?

        As to “…the current 420 ppm…” you are assuming that the atmospheric CO2 is evenly mixed, this is very evidently not the case, see for example the NASA OCO2 satellite results for Oct – Nov 2014 where the concentration varies between 387 and 402.5 ppm.

        See also today’s concentration that varies from 410ppm at 45.68° N, 8.80° E to 466 ppm at 45.68° N, 8.80° E.,0.69,596/loc=-45.316,-14.193

        It is instructive also to change the date of that display so as to clearly demonstrate the seasonal variation caused by changing emission and absorption and also observe that the variation in concentration is not as might be expected.

      • Mad Mike permalink
        January 3, 2023 6:11 pm

        We seem to forget that plants absorb CO2 and they are are doing very well so their take-up should be increasing. All that seems to be talked about are emissions and the oceans.

      • catweazle666 permalink
        January 3, 2023 8:28 pm


        The first reading should be 408 ppm at 26.47° S, 54.17° W
        second reading – 466 ppm at 45.68° N, 8.80° E. – should be 472 ppm at 45.41° N, 9.63° E.

        Sorry about that.

      • Broadlands permalink
        January 3, 2023 8:46 pm

        “Are you still contending that all anthropogenic CO2 molecules ever emitted remain in the atmosphere and are not subsumed along with the 96% of natural CO2 removed from the system during the length of the cycle?”

        No, I’m still sure that some of the 36-40 billion we added last year are still equilibrating with the land, the oceans and the biosphere, as they have been doing for many years. That’s why this post is about emissions making a new record that will eventually appear and be recorded at the Mauna Loa Observatory and the other locations at several latitudes in the Pacific from pole to pole. They will add to what was there before we started burning fossil fuels for energy. Estimated to be 280 ppm.

        Why are you still denying that?

      • catweazle666 permalink
        January 3, 2023 9:06 pm

        And yet during the period of the CV slowdown when anthropogenic CO2 emissions dropped by a. estimated 17% and the “climate scientists” claimed that this would show up in the Mauna Loa figures, there was no evidence whatsoever of any such thing, demonstrating that natural emissions increased to compensate for the reduction in anthropogenic emissions to maintain the overall atmospheric CO2 level, exactly as would be surmised by applying Henry’s law.

        It’s not me that’s denying atmospheric science, it’s you.

      • Broadlands permalink
        January 3, 2023 9:36 pm

        Denying atmospheric science?? Please do not put your words and thoughts into my comments while you are ignoring them with your truly bizarre interpretations to the contrary of the abundant published evidence.

      • catweazle666 permalink
        January 3, 2023 10:57 pm

        Sorry mate, as a retired chemical engineer I’m more concerned with physics such as Henry’s law, it’s not my interpretations that are bizarre, it is yours.

        Here’s something els to get your blood pressure up:

        If the Industrial Revolution had not taken place and mankind had not burned a single gram of fossil fuel the atmospheric concentration of CO2 would not be any different to what it is now.

      • Broadlands permalink
        January 4, 2023 12:32 am

        Mr. Engineer asserts: “if the Industrial Revolution had not taken place and mankind had not burned a single gram of fossil fuel the atmospheric concentration of CO2 would not be any different to what it is now.”

        That is almost correct. But of course we DID burn fossil fuels for all of the energy that got us here, and the exhausts are primarily CO2 and water vapor. The former has steadily built up in the atmosphere. And now the global emissions are close to five tons for every one of the eight billion people in need of reliable energy, especially for transportation. Its presence is observable at various sources… and the total will appear (after equilibration) in monitoring stations around the world. Equilibration with the biosphere, the oceans snd the land.

      • tomtamarkin permalink
        January 4, 2023 12:35 am

        Henry’s law is 100% correct. So what causes the current annual 2 to 4 ppm increases in CO2 as measured on the highly exaggerated scale? Planetary movements in repeatable and easily calculated movement cycles which effects tidal movement and even SST ()both control Henry’s Law based equilibriums) and perhaps to a very minor extent under water volcanic activity but that is highly uncertain. See my explanation in this article I wrote for politicians, policymakers, media and laymen:

    • January 3, 2023 5:35 pm

      Also subject to Henry’s Law (equilibrium with the oceans).

  3. David Calder permalink
    January 3, 2023 1:03 pm

    The missed off oceans and volcanoes from their stupid graphs….

  4. GeoffB permalink
    January 3, 2023 1:15 pm

    So 27 years of COP to reduce manmade CO2 has achieved nothing, about time the annual jamboree was stopped, it is just an excuse for a freebie holiday for the 50,000 hangers on who attend.

    • Mike Jackson permalink
      January 3, 2023 1:37 pm

      Wasn’t it Willis Eschenbach over on WUWT that coined the phrase ‘Conference of the Partygoers’? Every COP has been a homage to hypocrisy. I don’t know how anybody could reconcile the blatant misuse of government funds and the waste of earth’s natural resources with any serious attempt to control the climate or even to believe that we as a species are capable of doing anything of the kind.
      Whom the Gods wish to destroy …….

      • devoncamel permalink
        January 3, 2023 2:56 pm

        …they first make greedy? Many attendees are hoping for handouts from the gullible.

      • Martin Brumby permalink
        January 4, 2023 5:49 am

        Remember Copenhagen 2009 where the Danish Tarts allegedly proffered free cream specialities to accredited Partygoers?

        And I also recall that actor Robert Redford astutely pointed out that “Now is the Time to Act!”.

        Unsure if these two brain fragments are, in some way, related.

      • Mike Jackson permalink
        January 4, 2023 8:23 am

        I seem to remember that Katowice (2013?) was when the Russian hookers were being shipped in on a sort of airborne ‘milk run’.
        Allegedly, of course! 😎

  5. Nick Dekker permalink
    January 3, 2023 1:18 pm

    Very interesting historical data.
    Not sure about the claim that world total emissions should have peaked. I was under the impression that it was the rich advanced economies who should be taking serious steps to reduce their emissions by agreed dates while the more undeveloped countries – and that includes China whose per capita values are still below the USA, EU etc., – will continue to grow their emissions for some years.
    However, all countries are missing their long-term targets.
    Indeed the most egregious countries are still the rich ones trying to maintain the lifestyles they think they are entitled to. And refusing to help the poorer countries to make their adjustments.
    Sad really. I am in my 80s so I will not witness the result.

    • Ray Sanders permalink
      January 3, 2023 1:43 pm

      “and that includes China whose per capita values are still below the USA, EU etc.”
      Times have changed considerably Nick. Whilst China’s emissions are per capita below the US they have now moved well above the EU average.

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      January 3, 2023 1:58 pm

      If CO2 were a genuine threat, nobody would consider that allowing China to catch up on a per capita basis was a sane thing to do. Such logic exposes the rotten scam for what it is. China has already emitted more total CO2 than every other country except the USA and will imminently exceed them too. The exponential like growth since the 1950s means that today’s and near future emissions dwarf total historical emissions and they would be absolutely catastrophic – yet you would allow the destruction of the climate to be fair to China. Pffffft.

    • T Walker permalink
      January 3, 2023 4:47 pm

      I have spotted your problem Nick. You were listening. The vast majority you talk to think 100’s of countries are all signed up to reducing their emissions and it was only that nasty Trump guy who wouldn’t play ball.

    • catweazle666 permalink
      January 3, 2023 5:18 pm

      “…the rich ones trying to maintain the lifestyles they think they are entitled to.”

      Not a question of “entitlement” Nick, it’s called “progress” and it applies to you too as you sit there typing your post on the Internet, doubtless in a comfortable Western C21 environment and having achieved an age that would have been impossible if we had restricted our living standards to those of the Third World.

      As to “And refusing to help the poorer countries to make their adjustments”, have you noticed how much we donate in foreign aid while we still have homeless on our own streets?

      Also, have you noticed how much the increased CO2 has actually benefitted the ecosphere?

      Approximately 20% in green land cover, reflected in crop yields also, ascribed to climate change and increased atmospheric CO2 .

  6. Mike Jackson permalink
    January 3, 2023 1:28 pm

    The only scientists who are “dismayed” are the ones who see the tail light of the gravy train disappearing out of the station. What we can start to hope might just be that the brick wall of reality is round the next bend (gotta keep these railway metaphors going!) though I’m inclined to believe that there is still a signalman or two in a position to shift the points for a while yet.
    It’s a shame that we seem to be having a pretty freakish winter. A normal boring close to 0°C would have been ideal.

    • watersider permalink
      January 3, 2023 7:49 pm

      Come on Mike, train drivers are now working from home – keep up!

      • Mike Jackson permalink
        January 4, 2023 8:48 am

        Some of us have our own railways to play with at home! Not yet sophisticated enough for model union officials or work gangs picketing stations but we’ll get there!
        Incidentally, picking up on catweazle’s comment, it’s not you, me or the other posters on here that are trying to keep the poor poor. This from environmentalist Michael Oppenheimer (though in the interest of honesty, he did deny he said it), “The only hope for the world is to make sure there is not another United States. We can’t let other countries have the same number of cars, the amount of industrialization, we have in the US. We have to stop these Third World countries right where they are.”
        Lesotho (so I have been told) sits on enough coal to power southern Africa for the rest of this century but the World Bank refuses to advance the necessary finance to get it out of the ground and into power stations.
        Ask 90% of people anywhere in the world who is in the right here and there is little doubt about the answer you would get. Just who the hell do these people think they are that gives them the right to insists their fellow beings should be denied what they have?!😡

  7. January 3, 2023 1:47 pm

    If true, it is good news as we are still low on CO2. Plant life will love it and the greening of the planet will continue. This will give more vegetation for herbivores and ultimately man’s crops.

    • Vernon E permalink
      January 3, 2023 2:24 pm

      Well said Joan. You hit the nail on the head.

    • Chaswarnertoo permalink
      January 3, 2023 4:24 pm

      Sadly there are not enough fossil fuels available to ensure an ideal 1000 ppm atmospheric CO2.

    • Ian Wilson permalink
      January 3, 2023 4:37 pm

      Precisely, Joan – rather than state “it is worse than portrayed” perhaps we can say “better than portrayed”.
      Now we are squeezed between loss of Ukraine’s and Russia’s food exports, together with 6 million more mouths to feed every month, shouldn’t we be thankful for this boost to food growth from higher CO2?

  8. January 3, 2023 1:55 pm

    Since activists like to turn slogans into policy, perhaps it’s time to realize that “Net-Zero” is a pipe dream written into legislation that will only serve to make its proponents poorer and does little to reduce emissions, only export them elsewhere. Perhaps it’s time adopt the COVID slogan “flatten the curve” and apply it to emission targets. It looks like one even the Chinese might be successful with.

  9. Dung permalink
    January 3, 2023 2:01 pm

    How often do the government have to be told that scientists got their predictions, theories and warnings WRONG before they realise that maybe the scientists do not really know that much about this subject. Answers on a postcard to the north pole please.

  10. wheewiz permalink
    January 3, 2023 2:06 pm

    Among all the doom and gloom, there is good news in that CO2 levels are still increasing. Praise be that perhaps the most beneficial of the gases is continuing to green the planet and keep food prices a little lower than otherwise. From wherever this wonderful CO2 is originating, please keep it coming, even more if possible. Why is there no govt. subsidy for CO2 emitters ? Everything else is subbed, so why not CO2: an excellent vote getter ?

    • Chaswarnertoo permalink
      January 3, 2023 4:26 pm

      And it’s freezing and miserable here. A bit of warming, say 12 degrees, would be very welcome….

  11. Harry Passfield permalink
    January 3, 2023 3:07 pm

    “…carbon emissions from fossil fuels in 2022 are expected to reach 37.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide”

    From my reading of our old friend, Broadlands comments, 37.5B tons of CO2 would equate to approx 3.5 ppm. If I’m right, is that such a catastrophe?

    • Broadlands permalink
      January 3, 2023 5:06 pm

      Harry…One part-per-million of CO2 is 7.8 billion metric tons. Therefore 37.5 billion tons would represent 4.8 ppm. But that is global emissions, not what will finally equilibrate with the land, the oceans and the biosphere.

  12. January 3, 2023 3:30 pm

    UK emissions are probably going down mainly due to de-industrialisation, those emissions have not gone away, they have just shifted to other countries.

    Shockingly, peak WORKDAY electricity demand in GB is now only around 45 GW, similar to the peak demands on Christmas and New Years days 15 years ago (the regular dips on the plot below):

    • John Hultquist permalink
      January 3, 2023 5:07 pm

      I was expecting to see this argument closer to the top, but you nailed it, so I’ll just add “Seconded”!

    • Dave Andrews permalink
      January 5, 2023 4:31 pm

      Prof Dieter Helm says industrial demand in the UK has fallen 20% since the year 2000 whilst generating capacity has increased by over 20GW because of the increased use of unreliables, especially wind.

      Undoubtedly much of that fall in demand is because we have outsourced our industry, particularly to China.

  13. January 3, 2023 4:28 pm

    One air molecule per 2380 is CO2. Marginally above survival level for plants, vegetation etc.

    • John Hultquist permalink
      January 3, 2023 5:06 pm

      200 ppm would be marginal. 420 is adequate or comfortable. 800 would be good.

    • dave permalink
      January 3, 2023 5:09 pm

      U.A.H. figure for December 2022 for ‘Global Lower Atmosphere Temperature Anomaly’ …

      + 0.05 C.

      Funny thing, the figure for March 1983 …

      + 0.02 C.

  14. johnbillscott permalink
    January 3, 2023 5:23 pm

    CO2 was demonized in 1992 and blamed for Global Warming at the Rio Environmental conference By Maurice Strong, a participant in the Club of Rome, who was Chair, The hypothesis and gained traction despite lack any scientific underpinnings. The “Eco- Scientists” developed and live on a multi-billion “gravy train”.
    Last year a UN spokeswoman of the IPPC stated the environment was not the real purpose of the now Global Change and it was really about redistribution of wealth by destroying Capitalism.
    T he Eco-industry in turn are scamming everyone with the false promises of “cheap” renewable and sustainable energy. Western governments have/are derelict and even mendacious in protecting their nations economies and sustainability from the NetZero doctrine and the Green Blob.
    This reference is worth reviewing
    Claim: 1972 Club of Rome End of World Prediction Still on Track, Thanks to Climate Change – Watts Up With That?

  15. January 3, 2023 5:33 pm

    “Scientists have reacted with dismay”. Perhaps they need to start getting an education then.

    • Jordan permalink
      January 4, 2023 12:15 am

      @ilma630 If they get an education, they might do well to avoid UK academia.
      Academia basks under a popular image of “a scientist” being a clever career academic type (with a title “Dr” or “Prof”) who is completely independent of mind, and acts only in the interests of knowledge. I’m convinced that many career academics are flattered by their own sense of this image.
      Naturally, this isn’t the case. There is nothing in the scientific method to suggest it is restricted in such a way.
      In contrast to this image, I see UK academia as a public sector organisation which has a reputation for its culture of left-leaning political attitudes. Political correctness and practises like “de-platforming” are quite frequently reported.
      If the above is fair, we have “scientists say” which might more accurately be stated as “academics say”, which can be interpreted as “left wing doctrine says”.
      To give an example, I was dismayed at my daughter’s graduation ceremony in the Faculty of Engineering at a prominent UK University. We were all treated to a lecture on “climate change” where the new engineering graduates were lionised for their future role in working towards a solution.

  16. Tim Spence permalink
    January 3, 2023 7:06 pm

    It is telling that economists do ‘back of a fag packet’ calculations of CO2 emissions and present the findings as data.

    There are no common definitions of exactly what is an emission, is it just the fossil fuel combustion (in itself impossible to calculate) or does it include all the biological emissions of agriculture.

    And as for who is doing the emission it’s equally sketchy seeing as most nations seem content to farm manufacturing out to China.

  17. Tomer D. Tamarkin permalink
    January 3, 2023 7:33 pm

    Paul and readers, I spent a significant amount of my own money and engaged two Stanford Ph.Ds. in physics to conduct a series of data experiments leading to what we call the “smoking gun” analysis. We present our complete 32 page written report, a video with my science manager, Bud Bromley and me, and links to various articles and references at:

    Highlights from my simple article for laymen, politicians, policymakers and media folks as published in Shale Magazine regarding our study follow:

    On March 19, 2020, the State of California became the first state to issue a stay-at-home order, mandating all residents stay at home except to go to an essential job or shop for basic needs. Within weeks most of the world followed.

    For the next three months total energy use across all sectors…transportation, industrial, commercial, and residential…plummeted by over 15% thereafter rising slowly in bursts and spats.

    As an avid studier of all things “climate change” related I tracked the impact this significant fuel use reduction had on the Keeling Curve. The Keeling Curve is the chart tracking carbon dioxide in the atmosphere based on near-daily measurements at the Mauna Lao observatory located on the big island of Hawaii.

    The effect was both shocking and predictable. The marked reduction of fossil fuel use had no effect on the Keeling Curve which continued its virtual 45% upward slope on the highly exaggerated chart expressed as parts per million per year. This was wholly consistent with our findings over the previous 10 years as developing countries increased fossil use with no corresponding change of CO2 as reflected in this curve.

    Notice on the upward-slopping blue bar line of the Keeling curve in figure 2, the jagged “sawtooth” line. This jagged sawtooth waveform represents the seasonal variations of CO2 as affected by plant growth on land and sea. This is a function of the Earth’s elliptical orbit around the Sun and its 23.5-degree axial tilt.
    Close inspection of this saw tooth-like variance in CO2 shows roughly 10 parts per million (ppm) variation between the minimum and maximum as affected by sunlight and plant life distribution. This is far more than the 3 ppm increase in CO2 that the climate alarmist community claim is caused by man’s use of fossil fuels. To me, this was the “smoking gun” showing that these claims of fossil fuel increasing total CO2 were false and without merit!

    In collaboration with Mr. Bud Bromley, and with the kind financial support of actor/singer Pat Boone, we engaged two Stanford-educated Ph.D.s, Dr. Shahar Ben-Menahem a physicist, and Dr. Abraham Ishihara, a high-level mathematician and control theory expert, to design an experiment using the Mauna Lao Keeling data which is considered by all leading scientists as the “gold standard” of the available CO2 monitoring data sets. Read more at the Shale site:

  18. Realist permalink
    January 4, 2023 3:58 am

    Good news given the dangerously low level of CO2.

  19. Realist permalink
    January 4, 2023 4:00 am

    Given that CO2 is already in the atmosphere, how many times are they measuring the same thing and then panicking about a trace gas that is at a dangerously LOW level?

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