S1E113: Scientists who track world’s rapidly diminishing carbon budget

  • 7 Dec 2023

Can burning fossil fuels be phased out before the world gets too hot to live in?

Synopsis: The Straits Times' climate editor David Fogarty is at COP28 from Nov 23 till Dec 12 in Dubai, the United Nations climate change conference.

Every year, the Global Carbon Project releases its Carbon Budget, which projects global fossil fuel and land use emissions. The Global Carbon Project is a consortium of scientific institutions and the annual carbon budget study involves more than 100 scientists. 

And this year’s study predicts that fossil fuel carbon emissions will reach a new record in 2023, driven largely by strong growth in coal, oil and gas consumption in India and China. On top of this are carbon emissions from land use, such as deforestation and fires globally. 

And the world could hit the 1.5 deg C key temperature limit within 7 years at current rates of emissions, the study says.

In this episode, recorded at COP28, ST's David Fogarty hosts leading climate scientist Professor Pierre Friedlingstein, who coordinates the Global Carbon Budget study. He is also Chair in Mathematical Modelling of the Climate System at the University of Exeter in Britain.

Highlights of conversation (click/tap above):

4:07 Key findings from this year’s Global Carbon Budget analysis

6:38 What are the trends for fossil fuel emissions in India and China?

9:38 Which findings from this year’s study concern Professor Friedlingstein the most, and which give him hope?

12:00 Is the world any closer to a global peak of emissions?

14:56 The land and oceans absorb a lot of CO2; will they remain in good shape as the world warms?

Produced by: David Fogarty (dfogarty@sph.com.sg), Ernest Luis and Amirul Karim

Edited by: Amirul Karim

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