The effect of COVID-19 on global CO2 emissions
The global CO2 emissions drop during the COVID-19 pandemic
On a global scale, governments policies during the COVID-19 pandemic have drastically contributed to the diminution of the global CO2 emissions. The curfews and containment measures established around the world have changed transport and consumption habits. According to the Nature Climate Change study, and depending on the duration of the crisis, the global CO2 emissions could decrease by 7,5% in 2020, compared to 2019 level.
According to the UNO, a reduction of 7,6% per year is necessary to respect the Paris Agreement target, which is to limit global warming below 2°C. This lowering could be a good news for the climate, but this study is not hopeful about its real impact.
A critical but temporary drop
The important change in our consumption habits that happened during the pandemic were temporary. The reduction of CO2 emissions is, for the most part, due to travel restrictions, especially by plane. Even if governments restrictions are planned to last at least until the end of 2021, the scientific community have estimated a reduction of only 0,01°C of warming by 2030. « The containment has proven that we can change, and quickly, but it also showed the limits of behavioral changes », commented Piers Forster, a co-author of the study and director of the International Centre for Climate Priestley at the British university of Leeds.
A necessary structural change
The Nature Climate Change study emphasizes that this drop « […] do not reflect structural changes in the economic, transport or energy systems ». The governments measures to strengthen their economy might even have a bad impact on CO2 emissions. That is why this crisis is an opportunity to make changes.
The French government presented his recovery plan for 2021-2022. This plan, of 100 billion euros, plans to allocate 30% to ecological transition program. It remains to be hoped that this plan will be sufficient to reach the French target of decreasing national CO2 emissions of 40% by 2030.
Forster, P.M., Forster, H.I., Evans, M.J. et al. Current and future global climate impacts resulting from COVID-19. Nat. Clim. Chang. 10, 913–919 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-020-0883-0
Le Quéré, C., Jackson, R.B., Jones, M.W. et al. Temporary reduction in daily global CO2emissions during the COVID-19 forced confinement. Nat. Clim. Chang. 10, 647–653 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-020-0797-x