The COVID-19 pandemic was just an arc for climate and for global emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, to again approach record levels, according to a study published Thursday.
The pandemic has brutally slowed the global economy, and with it the pollution of the planet due to the consumption of fossil energy. Total emissions Decreased 5.4 percent in 2020.
But those emissions will rise again in 2021, no less than 4.9%, to less than 1% of the 2019 record, according to this study by the Global Carbon Project, an international consortium of scientists, published during COP26.
Gas and coal emissions are of particular concern, as they will increase this year more than they decreased in 2020.
The report confirms that economic revitalization is once again dependent on fossil fuels.
Emissions from oil increased by 4.4% in 2021. They do not return to 2019 levels, but the authors note that the transport sector has not yet recovered to pre-crisis levels, and therefore, this recovery may accelerate.
“This report is a jug of cold water,” one of its authors, Corinne Le Kerry, professor of climate change at the University of East Anglia, explained to AFP.
“It shows what’s happening in the real world, while here in Glasgow we’re talking about how to deal with climate change,” he added.
There was no structural change
The result of this overheating of the economy, and therefore of the planet, is that the ideal goal of limiting the temperature increase to + 1.5 ° C is becoming increasingly distant.
The planet has already seen Increase between +1.1°C and +1.2°Ccompared to the pre-industrial era.
At the current rate, the world only has eight years to have a 50% chance of limiting temperature rise to +1.5°C.
The worst student is the country where the Covid-19 pandemic emerged, China, which already accounts for 31% of carbon dioxide emissions.
Since its economy exited before the global crisis, this ratio could change.
The downturn in global activity due to the pandemic “was never a structural change. Leave the car [temporalmente] In the garage, or changing it for an electric car, it’s not the same,” Le Kerry explained to AFP.
Glenn Peters of the International Center for Climate Research, one of the study’s authors, adds that the recovery has been “stronger than expected.”
On the other hand, the study indicates that emissions in 2021 will decrease in the United States and the European Union, respectively, by 3.7% and 42%.
The United States is responsible for 14% of planetary emissions, and the European Union 7%.
India, the fourth largest exporter, stood at 7 percent.
The biggest culprit is coal. “Here lies the biggest question,” Le Quere told AFP.
Experts warn that energy demand is insatiable and far exceeding multimillion-dollar investments to change the paradigm, from fossil fuels to renewables.
But hope remains: in 2010, 23 countries grew, but their emissions decreased. Most of these countries have been developed, which means the regulations and changes have worked.
To reach the emissions-retention equilibrium in 2050, which is known as carbon neutrality, it will be necessary to stop emitting 1,400 million tons per year.
“In 2020, during the epidemic, only 1.6 billion tons fell,” the expert explained.
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