2023 is breaking all sorts of climate records

It’s a lot to make sense of, so for this last newsletter of 2023, let’s take a look back at the year, and let’s do it in data. A “climate wrapped,” if you will. 

A new record on emissions (again)

Technically, we can’t draw definitive conclusions about 2023 just yet. But it’s pretty evident that we’re on track for yet another record year when it comes to greenhouse-gas emissions from fossil fuels.

Carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels are expected to hit 36.8 billion metric tons in 2023, according to the Global Carbon Budget report, which was released earlier this month. That’s just over 1% higher than last year’s levels.

Hitting another record high for emissions isn’t the best news. Ideally, this line would be going in the other direction, and quickly. 

The story isn’t the same everywhere, though. The US and Europe, for instance, are actually seeing slight decreases in carbon pollution (though these places are among the highest historical emitters). China and India are seeing emissions growth of around 4% and 8%, respectively. 

But that growth could be slowing down soon, and some analysts say that within the next few years we could be nearing peak emissions (the moment when they turn around and start going down). I’ll believe it when I see it. 

It’s getting hot in here

Not only are we seeing record-high emissions, but 2023 is almost certainly going to be the hottest year on record, too. The year through November averaged just under 1.5 °C (or about 2.6 °F) hotter than preindustrial levels.

The warming is noticeable even compared with the last few decades. November was 0.85 °C warmer than the average November was in the 1990s. 

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