Carbon dioxide emissions reached a record high in 2022

Communities around the world emitted more carbon dioxide in 2022 than in any other year on record dating to 1900, a result of air travel rebounding from the pandemic and more cities turning to coal as a low-cost source of power, according to a report from the Associated Press.

Emissions of the climate-warming gas that were caused by energy production grew 0.9% to reach 36.8 gigatons in 2022, the International Energy Agency reported Thursday. (The mass of one gigaton is equivalent to about 10,000 fully loaded aircraft carriers, according to NASA.)

Carbon dioxide is released when fossil fuels such as oil, coal or natural gas are burned to powers cars, planes, homes, and factories. When the gas enters the atmosphere, it traps heat and contributes to the warming of the climate.

Extreme weather events intensified last year’s carbon dioxide emissions: Droughts reduced the amount of water available for hydropower, which increased the need to burn fossil fuels. And heat waves drove up demand for electricity.