Global carbon emissions are likely to see their steepest fall this year since the second world war, according to researchers who say coronavirus lockdown measures have already cut them by nearly a fifth. But the team warns that the dramatic drop won’t slow climate change.
The first peer-reviewed analysis of the pandemic’s impact on emissions predicts they will fall between 4.2 and 7.5 per cent on last year. A rise of around 1 per cent had been expected for 2020 before the crisis.
This is an unprecedented drop.
Researchers have found that restrictions imposed around the world had cut daily emissions by 17 per cent, but this only takes the world back to 2006 levels, a sign of how much emissions have grown in recent years.
The reductions have been fairly uniform globally, but the team cautions that the precipitous drop will make little dent in future global warming. If emissions go down 5 per cent this year overall, given that climate change is a cumulative problem, it basically makes little or no difference at all. The world is still on course for at least 3°C of warming. The UK Met Office expects a tiny dip in atmospheric CO2 levels this year, but projects that they will still be the highest in at least 2 million years.
A report last year found that emissions must fall by 7.6 per cent every year this decade to meet the Paris Agreement’s goal of checking warming at 1.5°C.
Governments need to support green measures and address fossil fuel industries or emissions will simply go up to their previous levels .
(Journal reference: Nature Climate Change, DOI: 10.1038/s41558-020-0797-x
Adam Vaughan, New Scientist).
My comment: Can you imagine any government at the moment having the determination to tackle the problem vigorously? A well-meaning Biden government, for a start, will be blocked by the Senate and the Supreme Court by the looks of it.