FACT CHECK: Yes, CO2 warms the planet and influences climate change

Carbon emissions Carbon emissions

A viral claim on social media says carbon dioxide is not responsible for global warming.

Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace, an independent global campaign network, made the claim in a 20-minute video that was posted on Twitter.

“I’m about to set some facts straight. Is the earth warming? Well, yes. There’s been slight warming in the last 300 years since the peak of the little ice age. But guess what, there’s no scientific proof that this is caused by carbon dioxide. And simply asserting a hypothesis does not prove it to be true but that doesn’t stop environmentalists, activists, and most troubling, politicians from calling carbon dioxide, it a toxic pollutant,” Moore said. 

“Carbon dioxide also called CO2 is responsible for all life on earth, it’s the building block, without carbon dioxide this would be a dead planet because all plants breathe CO2 just like we breathe oxygen. So what would happen if eco-activists got their wish and brought an end to all CO2 emissions from fossil fuels? Well, eventually, the earth would begin to die from a lack of CO2.”


The post was shared by a Wide Awake Media, a page with 85.8k followers and 43.5k views.


So far, it has had 1,409 retweets, 2,263 likes, and 125 bookmarks.


Comments on the post also showed that many online users had subscribed to Moore’s ideology.

“Scientists have proven that there is no climate emergency,” one of the comments reads.


A similar claim shared on Facebook in December 2022, featured a diagram illustrating photosynthesis, with a plant using light and carbon dioxide to produce oxygen and carbohydrates. 


“Remember science,” reads the text overlaid on the image. “CO2 is not a problem.”

It was shared over 500 times in two weeks. 


Although carbon dioxide is used in photosynthesis, plants, and other natural processes can absorb only about half of the CO2 emitted yearly. The excess CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels is what contributes to global warming.

According to data released from in May, each year, human activities release more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than natural processes can remove, causing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to increase.


As such, the global average for atmospheric CO2 set a new record in 2022, with 417.06 parts per million, increasing the atmospheric CO2 by 50 percent above pre-industrial revolution.

In fact, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) — the United Nations body established to assess the science related to climate change — modern humans have never observed the level of recent changes in global climate, and some of these changes are irreversible over the next hundreds to thousands of years.


Scientists have high confidence that global temperatures will continue to rise for many decades, mainly due to greenhouse gases – one of which includes CO2 – produced by human activities.


Moore’s claim that excess carbon dioxide is not a threat to the atmosphere is false. Plants alone cannot absorb the amount of carbon dioxide that is trapped in the air.

This fact check was produced by TheCable with support from Code for Africa’s PesaCheck, International Fact-Checking Network, and African Fact Checking Alliance network.

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