LAST YEAR’S clear spring skies foreshadowed it and the numbers bear it out: covid-19 lockdowns caused a sharp drop in emissions from burning fossil fuels, the largest such drop since the second world war. The latest data, published on March 3rd by the Global Carbon Project, an international consortium of climate researchers, puts industrial carbon-dioxide emissions produced in 2020 at 34bn tonnes, 2.6bn tonnes (7%) lower than in 2019.
Clearly, 2020 was an unusual year and emissions have already started to rebound. What is more, the drop came at a huge cost to economies and societies. Yet, in order to meet the Paris agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to between 1.5°C and 2°C above pre-industrial levels, more big cuts will be needed for the rest of the decade. “We need a cut in emissions of about the size of the fall [from the pandemic] every two years, but by completely different methods,” said Corinne Le Quéré, of the University of East Anglia, one of the lead researchers on the study.
Publication Date: 5 March 2021
Publication Site: The Economist