The current coronavirus pandemic’s side-effects are leading to the most significant drop in carbon dioxide emissions globally. According to a report by the Global Carbon Project group, CO2 emissions dropped 7% this year. However, experts consider lockdowns not to be the best solution to tackle climate change and global warming.
The Global Carbon Project Group Report
A new report sponsored by Global Carbon Project, a group integrated by dozens of international scientists devoted to tracking global carbon emissions, shows the world will have put 34 billion metric tons of CO2 in the air in 2020.
This decrease accounts for a 7% reduction from 2019’s numbers (36.4 billion metric tons). The report was published this Thursday in the Earth System Science Data journal.
Scientists agree this drop is primarily the result of mandatory or voluntary lockdowns implemented globally. The decrease in the use of cars and planes also positively affected these reductions.
Nevertheless, experts expect previous CO2 emission trends to jump back up after the pandemic ends, hopefully in 2021-2022.
Corinne LeQuere, a co-author of the study and a climate scientist, told the Associated Press the group foresaw months ago emission drops of 4% to 7% depending on the progression of the COVD-19 pandemic. The second coronavirus wave reinforced travel reduction and, in consequence, pushed the decrease to the current 7%.
In LeQuere’s words, “lockdown is absolutely not the way to tackle climate change.” For instance, the scientist recalled that although emissions dropped 12% in the US and 11% in Europe, China only decreased emissions by 1.7%.
The reason behind this result, LeQuere added, is that China had an earlier lockdown with less of a second wave. Besides, the country’s emissions are more industrial-based, and its industry was less affected than transportation.
The pandemic and its long-term effects
Furthermore, even with the 2020’s drop, the planet on average puts 1,075 metric tons of CO2 into the air every second. However, scientists aren’t sure if emissions will rise after the pandemic, surpassing 2019’s carbon pollution peak.
In 2019, the same group found a significant decrease in CO2 emissions, thus calling for a follow-up and establishing an international carbon pollution mandatory peak.
Achim Steiner, United Nations Development Director, told AP, “we are certainly very close to an emissions peak if we can keep the global community together.”
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In this regard, Chris Field, director of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, thinks emissions will increase after the pandemic but keeps optimistic “that we have, as a society, learned some lessons that may help decrease emissions in the future.”
For instance, Field recognizes that telecommuting for work can be a perfect option, without the need to do quite so many business trips. Therefore, the expert expects, “we might see behavior-related future emissions decreases.”
The report’s calculations — based on reports detailing energy use, industrial production, and daily mobility counts — were praised as accurate by outside scientists, the AP reported.