02 March 2023
An international group based in Paris says the world produced a record amount of carbon dioxide last year.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) said Thursday that the amount of carbon dioxide gas produced around the world rose by 0.9 percent in 2022.
Burning fossil fuels, such as oil, natural gas and coal, releases carbon dioxide. The gas is also produced by life on Earth and plants use it to grow.
Scientists believe carbon dioxide traps heat and increases the world's temperature. Some experts say high temperatures can cause bad weather events such as a lack of rain and storms.
Climate scientists are concerned about the IEA report. They say people around the world must cut carbon emissions to reduce the world's temperature.
Rob Jackson is a professor of earth system science at Stanford University. "Any emissions growth – even one percent – is a failure," he said, adding that even keeping emissions the same year to year is a problem.
"It's cuts or chaos for the planet. Any year with higher coal emissions is a bad year for our health and for the Earth," he said.
Increased use of coal for energy has caused some of the emissions growth. Many countries switched from natural gas to coal as gas prices rose in 2022. Natural gas became more costly as many nations stopped buying gas from Russia because of the country's invasion of Ukraine.
Emissions from oil also went up but were lower than the years before the COVID-19 pandemic. Much of the increase came as people returned to airplane travel after staying home for much of 2020 and 2021.
While 2022 set a record, experts said the amount of carbon dioxide was lower than expected. They said pandemic restrictions in China, the increase in electric vehicles, solar power and new heating systems prevented emissions from rising higher.
Fatih Birol is IEA's executive director. Birol said "without clean energy, the growth in carbon dioxide emissions would have been nearly three times as high."
Birol said the use of fossil fuels is still too high and oil companies are making a lot of money. The fossil fuel companies, Birol said, need to "take their share of responsibility, in line with their pledges to meet climate goals."
John Sterman leads the Sloan Sustainability Initiative at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He said it is still possible to reach climate goals.
He said countries around the world must stop cutting down trees, continue to help people buy electric cars and pay for new home heating systems. He argued that renewable energy needs government payments to support it and businesses that produce carbon dioxide should face increased costs.
He called it "a massive, massive undertaking."
I'm Dan Friedell.
Cathy Bussewitz reported this story for the Associated Press. Dan Friedell adapted this story for VOA Learning English.
Words in This Story
emission –n. (often pl.) something that is released into the air, such as gasses
chaos –n. a state of complete disorder and uncontrolled behavior
pledge –n. a promise
massive –adj. very large in amount, size or weight