Can we keep the CO2 emissions down on the Post-COVID Era?

With the pandemic, a serious crisis dialed back the world economy and with it, carbon emissions. According to a new study, global CO2 emissions declined around 7% below 2019 emissions, which is about what we have to reduce every year to have a chance of keeping the average global temperature rise below 1.5 C.

The economic crisis caused by the pandemic is different from past downturns because many young and poor people lost their jobs and homes, but many others just stayed home and stopped spending. Since it is assumed that the economy will recover sharply as the vaccines are rolled out, there will be a lot of spending going on, both from pent-up demand from the people who have been saving their money, and from more government intervention to help the people and businesses most affected by the crisis. The report authors recommend that this be carefully directed, noting that “economic stimuli on national levels could soon change the course of global emissions if investments towards green infrastructure are enhanced while investments encouraging the use of fossil energy are reduced.”

The drop in 2020 was unprecedented, but it is a one off. The thing with 1.5-2°C pathways, is that emission reductions of the size seen in 2020 need to happen 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲 𝐲𝐞𝐚𝐫 (& be done via means other than lockdowns). We need a radical departure from the status quo.

Many believe that people will very probably go out to eat more often than they normally would have pre-pandemic, see live entertainment more often, and so on.

Hopefully some of the good habits we acquired during the pandemic will stick for a positive turn in our lives and a slow down on consumption compulsion.

See the interactive CO2 Emissions Changes map here

Images from: Nature Climate Change

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