A new study carried out by Berkeley Lab’s Climate & Ecosystem Sciences Division indicates that despite the growing danger of global warming, plants are helping slow down the process, though it might not be enough to fix the pressing carbon emissions issue the world is facing.

The study clarifies that during the late years of the 20th century, carbon emissions climbed steadily. In the 21st century, however, the growth flattened which doesn’t add up because human activities have been releasing more CO2 in the air. The study suggests that plants were able to hold the levels of carbon flat, sucking up more carbon for their photosynthesis process. The study relied on global carbon budget estimates, and ground, atmospheric and satellite observations.

“We report a recent pause in the growth rate of atmospheric CO2 and a decline in the fraction of anthropogenic emissions that remain in the atmosphere, despite increasing anthropogenic emissions,” the study reads. “We attribute the observed decline to increases in the terrestrial sink during the past decade, associated with the effects of rising atmospheric CO2 on vegetation and the slowdown in the rate of warming on global respiration.”

“The pause in the atmospheric CO2 growth rate provides further evidence of the roles of CO2 fertilization and warming-induced respiration, and highlights the need to protect both existing carbon stocks and regions, where the sink is growing rapidly,” the study adds.

One of the study’s researchers, Trevor Keenan, argued that plants’ effort to subdue the issue might be temporary due to the steadiness in temperature during the past years. He added that the carbon growth rate will increase again as the warming “kicks back in.” According to NASA, this year was the hottest in recorded history while the month of July was the hottest month in Earth’s history.

Some countries such as United Arab Emirates, Canada and Norway have recognized the dangers of carbon emissions and started carbon capture, utilization and storage units to limit the release the harmful gas.  The initiatives to replace traditional energy sources with renewable ones have been growing in India, Paris, Spain along many others.

*Never miss a story like this - subscribe to our weekly highlights and stay up-to-date