Global CO2 emissions to drop due to pandemic | Daily News


 

Global CO2 emissions to drop due to pandemic

A new study suggests that CO2 emissions have dropped due to lockdowns and shutdowns from across the globe. However, it is unclear how long this trend will last.
A new study suggests that CO2 emissions have dropped due to lockdowns and shutdowns from across the globe. However, it is unclear how long this trend will last.

FRANCE: Global CO2 emissions from fossil fuels are set to drop by up to seven percent in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, but even this dramatic decline -- the sharpest since WWII -- would barely dent longterm global warming, researchers reported Tuesday.

In early April, coronavirus lockdowns led to a 17 percent reduction worldwide in carbon pollution compared to the same period last year, according to the first peer-reviewed assessment of the pandemic's impact on CO2 emissions, published in Nature Climate Change.

Four countries or blocs -- China, the United States, the European Union and India -- accounted for two-thirds of the downturn across the first four months of 2020, equivalent to more than one billion tonnes of CO2.

Total emissions from industry and energy last year came to a record 37 billion tonnes.

“Population confinement has led to drastic changes in energy use and CO2 emissions,” said lead author Corinne Le Quere, a professor at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia.

“These extreme decreases are likely to be temporary, however, as they do not reflect structural changes in the economic, transport or energy systems.” If the global economy recovers to pre-pandemic conditions by mid-June -- an unlikely scenario -- CO2 emissions in 2020 are projected to drop only four percent, Le Quere and her team calculated.

But if lockdown restrictions persist throughout the year, the decline will be around seven percent.

With nearly five million confirmed infections and 320,000 deaths, the COVID-19 pandemic has deflected attention from the climate crisis that dominated global concerns in 2019.

But the climate threat remains, other experts warn.

“This will make barely a dent in the ongoing build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” said Richard Betts, head of climate impacts research at Britain's Met Office Hadley Centre. Under the 2015 Paris climate treaty, nearly 200 nations pledged to cap global warming at “well below” 2C. But the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) subsequently determined that 1.5C is a far safer temperature guardrail. The pandemic has underscored just how difficult it will be to hit that more ambitious target. - AFP


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