A record 7 percent drop in global carbon emissions this year will have no impact on long-term climate change, according to researchers.
The annual Global carbon budget Covid-19 bans have reportedly reversed the world’s rising emission years, with France and the UK seeing the largest declines at 15 and 13 percent, respectively, due to their long-term restrictions.
Globally, fossil fuel burning released 34.1 billion tons of carbon dioxide in 2020, a decrease of 2.3 billion tons from the previous year, according to the Global Carbon Budget team. The biggest decrease was the 0.84 billion tons of CO2 Decline in traffic, especially road traffic, with a steep dive in April when many countries had traffic restrictions. After April, global emissions rebounded towards pre-pandemic.
Team member Pierre Friedlingstein from the University of Exeter, UK, says we risk a repetition of the rise in emissions after the 2009 financial crash. “Just the decrease in 2020 compared to what has been accumulating in the atmosphere so far and what is going to accumulate in the future won’t make a difference in the long run. To make a difference, this trend must continue. “
Not all sectors were in decline: industrial emissions rose slightly from 2019, possibly due to China, where industrial activity recovered rapidly after restrictions earlier in the year. The geography of cuts has also been mixed, with much of the decline being driven by the US and Europe. China’s emissions fell by just 0.15 billion tons of CO2.
According to team member Corinne Le Quéré of the University of East Anglia in the UK, a rebound is very likely in 2021 as the decline has been so large this year. “The harder thing is to say how big the rebound will be in 2021, whether it will return to 2019 levels or even higher,” she says.
Sign up for our free Fix the Planet newsletter to get a dose of climate optimism straight to your inbox every Thursday