A locked-down pandemic-struck world cut its carbon dioxide emissions this year by 7 per cent, the biggest drop ever, new preliminary figures show.
The Global Carbon Project, an authoritative group of dozens of international scientists who track emissions, calculated that the world will have put 37 billion US tonnes (34 billion metric tonnes) of carbon dioxide in the air in 2020.
That’s down from 40.1 billion US tons (36.4 billion metric tons) in 2019, according a study published Thursday (10th December) in the journal Earth System Science Data.
Scientists say this drop is chiefly because people are staying home, traveling less by car and plane, and that emissions are expected to jump back up after the pandemic ends.
Ground transportation makes up about one-fifth of emissions of carbon dioxide, the chief man-made heat-trapping gas. “Of course, lockdown is absolutely no the way to tackle climate change,” said study co-author Corinne LeQuere, a climate scientist at the University of East Anglia.
The same group of scientists months ago predicted emission drops of 4 per cent to 7 per cent, depending on the progression of COVID-19. A second coronavirus wave and continued travel reductions pushed the decrease to 7 per cent, LeQuere said.