Record fall in CO2 emissions forecast for 2020

29th April 2020


Web p5 empty roads credit alamy

Related Topics

Related tags

  • sea ice loss

Author

Thomas Roberts

The largest ever annual decline in CO2 emissions is expected this year as the coronavirus pandemic slashes transport use, electricity demand and industrial activity across the world.

Forecasts by Carbon Brief suggest an emission reduction equivalent to 4% of the global total recorded in 2019, which would be more than during any previous economic crisis or period of war.

Although the researchers said their predictions are “necessarily uncertain“ due to the unknown length of lockdowns, they expect the pandemic to cause emission cuts in the region of 1,600m tonnes of CO2 this year. However, even this would not come close to limiting global warming to 1.5°C, as envisaged by the Paris Agreement.

Carbon Brief warned that global emissions would need to fall by more than 6% every year this decade in order to limit warming to less than 1.5°C above pre-industrial temperatures.

“To put it another way, atmospheric carbon levels are expected to increase again this year, even if CO2 emissions cuts are greater still,“ the researchers said. “Rising CO2 concentrations – and related global warming – will only stabilise once annual emissions reach net-zero.“

This comes after the International Energy Agency stressed that a decline in global emissions will not be sustainable without coordinated changes to government policy.

Various other experts have also warned that emissions will quickly rebound unless the response to the pandemic can create lasting, structural changes towards net-zero emissions.

Meanwhile, a coalition of European politicians, business leaders and NGOs has written to the EU calling for unprecedented 'green recovery investment packages' to reboot economies once the health crisis has passed.

The 180 signatories, which include executives from PepsiCo and Microsoft, warned that the world faces a deeper economic shock than during the last financial crash, and that “what worked for the 2008 financial crisis may not be sufficient to overcome this one“.

The coalition pointed to the European Commission's 'Green Deal' plan as a blueprint, and urged policymakers to use COVID-19 as an opportunity by “enshrining the fight against climate change as the core of the economic strategy“.

“COVID-19 will not make climate change and nature degradation go away. We will not win the fight against COVID-19 without a solid economic response,“ the letter says. “Let's not oppose those two battles, but let's fight and win them at the same time.“

Picture credit: Alamy


Transform articles

The reading room

How to Save Our Planet is call to action that aims to equip everyone with the knowledge needed to make change. We need to deal with climate change, environmental destruction and global poverty, and ensure everyone’s security.

23rd September 2021

Read more

Hannah Lesbirel and Beccy Wilson speak to IEMA members about climate anxiety

23rd September 2021

Read more

Seven of the UK's 17 key industry sectors are still increasing their emissions year-on-year, and most will miss their 2050 net-zero targets without significant government action, new research suggests.

23rd September 2021

Read more

The UK government’s former chief scientific adviser Sir David King talks to Chris Seekings about his career, the latest IPCC report, COVID-19 and COP26

23rd September 2021

Read more

The UK’s transition to net-zero emissions will only succeed if the government does more to involve the public in designing climate-related policies, the Institute for Government has warned.

23rd September 2021

Read more

In a joint editorial, more than 200 health journals have called on governments to take emergency action to tackle the “catastrophic harm to health” caused by climate change.

23rd September 2021

Read more

The UK public is the more concerned about the environment than it has been for the last 30 years.

23rd September 2021

Read more

COVID-19 recovery packages have largely focused on protecting, rather than transforming, existing industries, and have been a “lost opportunity” for speeding up the global energy transition.

23rd September 2021

Read more

Hello, and welcome to another edition of Transform, the magazine for IEMA sustainability professionals. I hope you are staying safe, and managing to have a productive October and November.

23rd September 2021

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert