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Why this Matters: Under the Paris Agreement, nations agreed to prevent the rise in global temperature from reaching two degrees Celsius and keeping the rise under 1.5 degrees celsius, but that won’t be possible if our emissions start going up again. During the peak of lockdowns, emissions dropped the most in history, by nearly two billion tons, due to fewer cars and planes traveling. Recovering the economy and preventing the climate crisis are not mutually exclusive — but if we are ever going to “build back better” with less carbon pollution, the time to start is now. Otherwise, we will lose this unique “opportunity” to bring carbon pollution under control.
Global Emissions Rise Again
In the U.S., emissions in 2020 fell by 10 percent, but by the end of last year, they were almost back at pre-pandemic levels again. India and China had some of the largest spikes in emissions since 2019. In China, Carbon emissions surpassed 2019 levels in spite of lockdown and it was the only major economy to grow in 2020.Meanwhile, India’s emissions rose above 2019 levels as they moved out of lockdown in September, and Brazil eclipsed its 2019 emissions because a rebound in road transport after May caused more demand for oil.That said, many countries have adopted ambitious emissions goals, like China’s commitment to becoming carbon neutral by 2060, the U.S.’ re-entry into the Paris Agreement, and the European Union’s Green New Deal.
For the year, the 2 billion ton drop in emissions was the largest absolute decline in history — it was a 6% decline overall. “If governments don’t move quickly with the right energy policies, this could put at risk the world’s historic opportunity to make 2019 the definitive peak in global emissions,” IEA’s Birol said. “If current expectations for a global economic rebound this year are confirmed – and in the absence of major policy changes in the world’s largest economies – global emissions are likely to increase in 2021,” Dr. Birol added.
Dr. Birol tried to express some hope as well, saying, “there are still reasons for optimism. China has set an ambitious carbon-neutrality target; the new US administration has rejoined the Paris Agreement and is putting climate at the heart of its policy-making; the European Union is pushing ahead with its Green Deal and sustainable recovery plans; India’s stunning success with renewables could transform its energy future, and the United Kingdom is building global momentum toward stronger climate action at COP26 in November.”
By WW0 Staff For the United States, the post-Trump, pre-COP26 road to Glasgow has been paved with ambition and humility. In a major speech, the President’s Envoy, John Kerry, previewed the results of his climate diplomacy before heading into two weeks of intense deliberations of world leaders. Speaking at the London School of Economics — […]
Next week, the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow will draw hundreds of world leaders to Glasgow to determine the path forward five years after the Paris Climate Agreement (for a primer, read this) as new science underscores the urgency. The conference aims to squeeze countries to strengthen the commitments they’ve made towards securing global net-zero […]
By Amy Lupica, ODP Daily Editor In a report released last week, the Department of Defense (DOD) confirmed that existing risks and security challenges in the US are being made worse due to “increasing temperatures; changing precipitation patterns; and more frequent, intense, and unpredictable extreme weather conditions caused by climate change. Now, the Pentagon is […]
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