Pace Of CO2 Accumulation In Earth's Atmosphere Resumes Rising

After stalling in April 2024, the rate at which carbon dioxide is increasing in the Earth's atmosphere resumed rising in June 2024.

The June 2024 increase follows May 2024's increase in exports to the world from China, pointing to increased economic output by China's export industries. Since these industries are primarily powered by coal-fired electricity generation, their increased output contributes to increased carbon dioxide emissions.

And since China is, by far an away, the world's largest producer of carbon dioxide emissions, the country's economic activity shows up in the Earth's atmosphere. Increased emissions from China diffuse into the Earth's air and show up several weeks later at the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration data collected at the remote Mauna Kea Observatory. The pace of accumulation is measured by the trailing twelve month average of the year-over-year change in the concentration of CO₂. The following chart shows how that measure has fluctuated in conjunction with major global economic and environmental events from January 2000 through June 2024:

Trailing Twelve Month Average Year-Over-Year Change in Parts per Million of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide, January 2000 - June 2024

News reports indicate China's exports continued rising rapidly in June 2024, which suggests the increase in the rate at which CO₂ is being added to the Earth's atmosphere seen in June 2024 will continue. That increase comes as China's exports boosted their output ahead of new tariffs imposed by the Biden administration that will take effect in August 2024.

The effect of the tariffs on China's economic output and carbon emissions will be something to watch this fall.


National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. Earth System Research Laboratory. Mauna Loa Observatory CO2 Data. [Online Data]. Updated 5 July 2024. Accessed 10 July 2024.

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