COP26: 10 New Insights in Climate Science and Global Carbon Budget

COP26: 10 New Insights in Climate Science and Global Carbon Budget



4 November 2021

The 10 New Insights in Climate Science, a synthesis of the most robust climate-related research findings available today, has been released by the WMO co-sponsored World Climate Research Programme (WCRP), Future Earth and the Earth League.

The Global Carbon Project also issued its annual Global Carbon Budget, showing that after dropping 5.4% in 2020, global fossil carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions are set to increase about 4.9% in 2021, finishing just 0.8% below 2019 emission levels. It updates the remaining carbon budgets based on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Sixth Assessment Report and projects that if CO2 emissions were to remain at 2021 levels, we have 11 years to 1.5°C, and 32 years to 2°C.

Both scientific reports were released at the United Nations Climate Change negotiations, COP26, on 4 November. They reinforce WMO’s Greenhouse Gas Bulletin and State of the Global Climate 2021 reports on the urgent need for much more ambitious climate action.

The 10 Insights in Climate Science report is based on an assessment made by more than 60 world-leading academic experts, with a scoping process that reaches several thousands of scientists working on fields related to climate change. Since 2017 the reports has been launched annually at COP. UNESCO's International Oceanographic Commission and the International Science Council also co-sponsor WCRP.

It highlights the following 10 Insights:

See the video here


The Global Carbon Budget was released at a side event at the COP26 Science Pavilion co-sponsored by the UK Met Office, IPCC and WMO. The Global Carbon Project is an international acclaimed network of scientists which collaborate on WMO’s annual United in Science report.

Global carbon emissions in 2021 are set to rebound close to pre-Covid levels, according to report.

Fossil carbon emissions dropped by 5.4% in 2020 amid Covid lockdowns, but the new report projects an increase of 4.9% this year (4.1% to 5.7%) to 36.4 billion tonnes. Emissions from coal and gas use are set to grow more in 2021 than they fell in 2020, but emissions from oil use remain below 2019 levels.

For major emitters, the 2021 emissions appear to return to pre-COVID trends of decreasing CO2 emissions for the United States and European Union and increasing CO2 emissions for India. For China, the response to the COVID-19 pandemic has sparked further growth in CO2 emissions, pushed by the power and industry sectors.

The research team – including the University of Exeter, the University of East Anglia (UEA), CICERO and Stanford University – say a further rise in emissions in 2022 cannot be ruled out if road transport and aviation return to pre-pandemic levels and coal use is stable.

"The rapid rebound in emissions as economies recover from the pandemic reinforces the need for immediate global action on climate change," said Professor Pierre Friedlingstein, of Exeter's Global Systems Institute, who led the study.

"The rebound in global fossil CO2 emissions in 2021 reflects a return towards the pre-Covid fossil-based economy. Investments in the green economy in post-Covid recovery plans of some countries have been insufficient so far, on their own, to avoid a substantial return close to pre-Covid emissions."

Infographic Emissions



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