The CO2 decline numbers aren't enough to save our collective carbon asses, but the longer the pandemic drags on - and the less we fly, use oil, consume and turn to alternative power etc, the less emissions enter the atmosphere.
*To prevent warming beyond 1.5°C, we need to reduce GHG emissions by 7.6% - nearly 2,800MtCO2 every year from 2019 to 2030. 10 years ago, if countries had acted on this science, governments would have needed to reduce emissions by 3.3% each year. Every year we fail to act, the level of difficulty and cost to reduce emissions goes up.
Nations agreed to a legally binding commitment in Paris to limit global temperature rise to no more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels, but also offered national pledges to cut or curb their greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. This is known as the Paris Agreement.
The initial pledges of 2015 are insufficient to meet the target, and governments are expected to review and increase these pledges as a key objective this year, 2020. (*IPCC)
History has showcased the impact of crises and recessions on emissions, but the COVID-19 pandemic is in a league of its own as the impact is far greater than world wars, depressions, spanish flu and previous financial crises. Carbon Brief have reported extensively on our falling GHG position as COVID-19 has progressed - and has had to keep revising down the projected CO2 emissions position as the pandemic worsens.
The last update was on 30 April 2020 and surely more will come, when they reported:
THE INTERNATIONAL ENERGY AGENCY HAS FORECAST THE CO2 IMPACT OF THE CRISIS, SUGGESTING EMISSIONS COULD FALL BY 8% THIS YEAR, SOME 2,600MtCO2. IT DRAWS ON MORE RECENT DATA AND COVERS 100% OF GLOBAL EMISSIONS, WHEREAS CARBON BRIEF’S ESTIMATE WAS BASED ON INFORMATION COVERING ONLY AROUND 75% OF THE TOTAL.
The post-pandemic economic outlook remains extremely uncertain as recovery pushes well into 2021. Timeframes to create vaccines, 2nd and 3rd wave outbreaks, the severity of lockdown controls all drive the economic impacts in terms of what a recovery might look like and therefore GHG projections. While it's a simplistic model, based on the historical relationship between GDP and GHGs, we could realistically get to a 10% cut in CO2 emissions in 2020 – a fall of more than 3,600MtCO2. A number which is completely off the charts.
The bad news is that even a 10% fall in global fossil-fuel emissions would still see some 33,000MtCO2 pumped into the atmosphere in 2020, a higher total than in any year before 2010.
Any emissions cuts in 2020 alone don't solve the warming problem unless they are followed by longer-lasting changes.
Image: Unsplash | The Social Cut / Charts: Carbon Brief
Mother Nature is on the case since the humans couldn’t sort it out on their own 😉
Tuesday, 28 July 2020