Please invest in Our Daily Planet today, by making a one time or monthly contribution.
We do not charge our readers a subscription fee for our content. We want to continue to grow our readership, particularly among millennials and public servants. Voluntary contributions from readers will help us employ interns and freelance journalists, expand our content, and reach a larger audience.
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.”
Special Presidential Envoy on Climate (or “SPEC”) Kerry is engaging with key nations this week in the run-up to the Global Summit in two weeks. In India yesterday he met with Prime Minister Narenda Modi, who reaffirmed his government’s commitment to its Paris pledges, including increasing its non-fossil fuel power capacity to 40% and substantially boosting forest cover to reduce CO2. Kerry visits Bangladesh today.
Why This Matters: Kerry is using these visits to try to elicit elevated commitments from other major emitters — China and India.
by Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer While scientists have long agreed that human activity was the biggest driver of climate change, there hasn’t yet been evidence from direct observation (the gold standard of scientific research) until now. NASA has completed the first study of its kind, which has calculated the recent causes of climate change […]
by Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer Both Kyoto, Japan, and Washington D.C. are known for their cherry blossom seasons in the first few weeks of warming spring weather. This year, cherry blossom season came early in both of these cities. In Kyoto, the blooms peaked last Friday, the earliest in more than 1,200 years of […]
Our Daily Planet is your daily dose of the stories shaping our world and the ways that you can take action. From the climate crisis to the protection of biodiversity, if these issues matter to you then please subscribe & stay informed!
Your privacy is Important! We promise never to use your email address to send you spam or advertisements.