CO2 emissions reach pre-pandemic levels

Emissões de CO2 se aproximam dos níveis anteriores à pandemia

Coal plant in the Chinese city of Datong – AFP

The pandemic was just a relief to climate and global emissions of CO2, the main greenhouse gas, have once again reached record levels, according to a study released on Thursday.

The pandemic ruthlessly slowed down the world economy and, with it, the pollution of the planet from the consumption of fossil energy. According to a study by the International Union of Scientists for the Global Carbon Project during COP26, total emissions fell by 5.4% in 2020 but are expected to rise again in 2021, no less than 1% of 2019’s record, 4.9 is not less than %.

Gas and coal emissions are of particular concern, as they will rise more this year than fall in 2020. The report finds that economic reactivation has turned to fossil fuels.

Emissions due to oil are expected to increase by 4.4% in 2021. They will not return to 2019 levels, but the authors point out that the transport sector has not yet reached pre-crisis levels.

“This report is a bucket of cold water,” commented co-author Corinne Le Quere, a professor of climate change at the University of East Anglia, in an interview with AFP. “It shows what happens in the real world, while here in Glasgow we talk about tackling climate change.”

– without ‘structural change’ –

The consequence of this re-warming of the economy and the planet is that the ideal objective of limiting the increase in temperature to 1.5ºC is fast being overcome.

The planet has already experienced an increase of between 1.1 °C and 1.2 °C compared to the pre-industrial era. At the current rate, the world has only eight years to have a 50% chance of limiting temperature rise to 1.5 °C.

The worst student is China, the country where the pandemic began, which accounts for 31% of CO2 emissions. As its economy recovers before the rest of the world, that percentage may change.

The decline in global activity due to the pandemic “was never a structural change. Leaving a car temporarily in the garage or exchanging it for an electric vehicle is not the same thing,” Korin said.

“Was stronger than expected,” said Glen Peters of the International Climate Research Center, another author of the study.

– new growth –

On the other hand, according to the study, emissions in the United States and the European Union will fall by 3.7% and 4.2%, respectively, in 2021. The United States is responsible for 14% of global emissions and the European Union for 7%.

Energy demand far exceeds a million-dollar investment to switch models from fossil fuels to renewables, warn experts. But the hope remains.

In the 2010s, 23 countries increased, but their emissions declined. Most of them were developed, meaning the rules and changes worked.

To achieve a balance between emissions and the retention of gases in 2050, known as carbon neutrality, it would be necessary to stop emissions by 1.4 billion tons per year. “In 2020, during the pandemic, we had a decline of 1.6 billion tonnes, which reflects the scale of action required,” commented Corinne Le Quére.

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