If we want to see a sustained decline in global emissions, we can’t just put the economy on pause during a pandemic. We have to change those systems. — Pierre Friedlingstein, a climate scientist at the University of Exeter
If we want to see a sustained decline in global emissions, we can’t just put the economy on pause during a pandemic. We have to change those systems. — Pierre Friedlingstein, a climate scientist at the University of Exeter

It’s not enough for emissions to peak and then plateau. If we want to stop the planet from continuing to heat up, then emissions have to go to zero. — Rob Jackson, a professor of earth system science at Stanford
It’s not enough for emissions to peak and then plateau. If we want to stop the planet from continuing to heat up, then emissions have to go to zero. — Rob Jackson, a professor of earth system science at Stanford

Carbon Dioxide Emissions Rebounded Sharply After Pandemic Dip
After a drastic decline last year, global fossil fuel emissions have rebounded sharply in 2021 and are now just slightly below their previous record highs, researchers said Wednesday. It’s yet another sign that countries are still far from their goals of avoiding the worst effects of global warming.

In 2020, carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and industry plummeted 5.4 percent worldwide as businesses shut down and governments ordered people to stay home amid the coronavirus outbreak. It was the largest one-year drop on record.

But experts had long warned that the drop was likely to prove temporary, and the new data, published by the Global Carbon Project, confirms it. In 2021, emissions are projected to rise 4.9 percent as the global economy has rumbled back to life and lockdowns have mostly eased.

Overall, global emissions are now less than 1 percent below their previous high in 2019, suggesting that any climate impact from the pandemic was fleeting.

“Essentially, we halted the global economy and then brought it back to life with mostly the same fossil-fuel-powered cars, trucks, factories and power plants that we had before,” said Pierre Friedlingstein, a climate scientist at the University of Exeter who led the research. “If we want to see a sustained decline in global emissions, we can’t just put the economy on pause during a pandemic. We have to change those systems.”

... A recent report from the United Nations found that while the world’s nations spent more than $16 trillion on stimulus measures over the past year, they largely focused on reviving the traditional fossil-fuel-dependent parts of their economies as quickly as possible, with less than one-fifth of recovery funds used to promote low-carbon alternatives.

... Dr. Jackson of Stanford cautioned that it was still quite possible that global fossil fuel emissions could rise to a record level in 2022, as a few major sectors, like ground transportation and aviation, have not fully recovered from the pandemic.

“It doesn’t seem like we’ve reached peak emissions yet globally,” he said. “And remember, it’s not enough for emissions to peak and then plateau. If we want to stop the planet from continuing to heat up, then emissions have to go to zero.”

The new data shows just how enormous a task that will be. In 2020, carbon dioxide emissions fell by roughly 1.9 billion tons globally. But in order to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels — a threshold many scientists say is necessary to avoid the worst effects from heat waves, droughts, wildfires and flooding — emissions would have to fall, on average, 1.4 billion tons every single year between now and 2050.


“That really shows you the sheer scale of the action required,” Dr. Friedlingstein said.

Relatively few countries account for the majority of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions, with China now responsible for 31 percent, the United States 14 percent, the European Union 7 percent and India 7 percent.
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/03/climate/carbon-dioxide-emissions-global-warming.html