Why does CO2 matter?

Because there is no planet B.

Mike Berners-Lee

Why CO2 matters

The global warming has catastrophic consequences for our planet and threatens the existence of nature and mankind. There is little doubt that it is caused by a radical increase in greenhouse gases (GHG) in our atmosphere as a result of human activity [1].


In 2016, GHG emissions measured in CO2-equivalents summed up to around 50 billion tons [2]. Atmospheric concentration of CO2 has risen by 48% from 280 ppm at the beginning of the industrial revolution in 1850 to 415 ppm today [3].


A glimpse into history shows: over the past millenia, never has the CO2 concentration reached such levels; never has there been such an increase.

Hannah Ritchie and Max Roser (2017) - "CO₂ and Greenhouse Gas Emissions". Published online at OurWorldInData.org. Retrieved from: 'https://ourworldindata.org/co2-and-other-greenhouse-gas-emissions'

With the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change many countries committed to take action in order keep global temperature well below 2°C. Scientists have developed models to calculate the remaining carbon budget - the amount of carbon emissions permitted to hold the temperature limit. The resulting amounts range from 118 billion tons CO2e to 779 billion tons CO2e - and respective time horizons between less than three and sixteen years assuming stable emissions at current levels [4].


Unless we change something, a growing population and intensified economic activity on our planet will further increase GHG emissions and amplify global warming. So why does CO2 matter? Let's join Mike Berners-Lee and agree on three fundamental facts [5]:

  1. We are in a climate emergency.

  2. It's human made.

  3. And we can do something about it.