According to a study | CO2 emissions near pre-COVID-19 record levels

by time news

(Glasgow) The COVID-19 crisis was only a parenthesis for the climate and global CO emissions2, the main greenhouse gas, have taken off again, leaving less and less time to counter global warming, a study warns on Thursday.


Stéphane ORJOLLET
France Media Agency

The pandemic had shut down a large part of the world and its economy very dependent on fossil fuels, causing a spectacular drop of 5.4% in total emissions in 2020.

But in 2021, they should rebound by 4.9% to be closer to less than 1% of the absolute record of 2019, according to this study by the Global carbon project, published on the occasion of the COP26. This group of international scientists studies global carbon “budgets”, or the amount of CO2 that can be issued for a given result.

Because despite the promises of post-COVID-19 “green” recovery plans, this recovery is mainly done with fossil fuels: emissions due to coal should thus exceed their level of 2019, that is to say before the COVID-19 crisis, although below their all-time highs of 2014, and gas-related ones reach their all-time high.

Of course, emissions from oil, projected to increase by 4.4% for 2021, do not catch up with their 2019 level, but the authors stress that the transport sector has not yet recovered to its pre-crisis levels and that the rebound is therefore likely to accelerate.

Reality check

As a result, the remaining “carbon budgets” so as not to exceed the objectives of the Paris Agreement, i.e. a warming compared to the pre-industrial era clearly below + 2 ° C, and if possible at +1.5 ° C , are decreasing dangerously, while the level currently reached is evaluated between + 1.1 ° and + 1.2 °.

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At the rate of 2021, to have a 50% chance of holding +1.5 ° C, there are eight years of emissions remaining, 20 years to limit warming to +1.7 ° C and 32 years to +2 ° C.

If we hope to increase the odds to 66%, the duration drops further: 8 years for 1.5 ° C, 16 years at +1.7 ° C and 27 years at +2 ° C.

Time is therefore running out, as shown by the resurgence of climatic disasters of all kinds – floods, droughts, mega-fires – with their procession of victims, populations displaced or threatened with famine.

The study is therefore a “reminder to the reality of what is happening in the world while we are discussing in Glasgow how to fight climate change”, underlines for AFP the climatologist Corinne Le Quéré, one of the authors.

Because the fall linked to COVID-19 “was never the result of a structural change. Putting your car (temporarily) in the garage or switching to an electric car, it’s not the same thing ”.

And in the absence of these changes, “the rebound was even stronger than I thought,” says Glen Peters of the International Center for Climate Research, another author of the study.

New growth

As it stands, “we could expect to see emissions grow again,” he told AFP, while before the pandemic, scientists were hoping that 2019 could mark a peak in emissions.

The geographic distribution of emissions for 2021 illustrates these fears. China, the world’s leading emitter since 2007 with around a quarter of emissions, will see its share jump to 31% in 2021.

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Share that may have been pushed up as the country emerged from the COVID-19 crisis ahead of others. Chinese emissions had indeed increased by +1.4% in 2020, while those of the United States, the world’s second largest emitter, fell by 10.6%, those of the European Union, third emitter, by 10.9%. and India, fourth, 7.3%.

The 2021 projections call for increases of 4%, 7.6%, 7.6% and 12.6% respectively.

The authors of the study therefore call for “immediate action and global coherence in the global response to climate change”.

With a glimmer of hope. Over the decade 2010/19, they identified 23 countries, representing around a quarter of global CO emissions.2, where emissions have fallen substantially, while the economy has been growing. For a good half of the highly developed countries, which therefore have the means, and the regulations, to tackle the problem.

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