During the early days of the Covid-19 lockdown, there was a significant greenhouse gas emissions drop around the world. In fact, according to the Global Carbon Project, greenhouse gas emissions fell by 7% in 2020.
However, those losses are almost gone.
In December 2020, while many places around the world were still in lockdown conditions, global emissions were actually 2% higher than in December 2019. As the world comes out of these lockdown conditions, emissions will likely exceed previous levels.
Yet, this can be avoided, or at least mitigated, if nations focus on green investments in the future.
Why Are Emissions Rebounding?
One thing that was quite clear was that the emissions drop of 2020 was the result of lockdown conditions. These saw a decrease in traveling by both car and plane, a reduction in fossil fuel usage, and many other contributing factors.
However, these lockdown restrictions are easing up. And nothing was done to fundamentally ensure that emissions do not resume as normal.
In fact, it’s very likely that once lockdown restrictions fully end, emissions will exceed 2019 levels. And that’s exactly what is happening even with restrictions in place.
People are eager to travel again, and we’re going to see emissions return from these sectors greater than before.
China Didn’t See An Emissions Drop in 2020
China is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases. However, instead of seeing an emissions drop, they actually saw a 0.8% increase in emissions. In reality, they only experienced a 12% drop in February 2020.
Every other month saw a 5% increase when compared to 2019 levels.
For reference, China accounts for 30% of all emissions, which is twice as much as the United States. Also for reference, the US saw a 10% reduction in emissions during the same period.
Anything that results in an increase for China is a disaster for the rest of the world. There is no hope if China does not reduce its emissions.
The country has pledged to go emission-free by 2060, but that is 10 years later than any other nation. In fact, the Paris Agreements goals were designed around its members going emission-free by 2050.
China needs to do more.
Unfortunately, China is not alone in this category. India and Brazil have also seen emission levels reach and exceed 2019 levels.
Recovery Plans Are Critical for Beating Climate Change
It’s no secret that the economy is not doing very well as a result of Covid-19. Nations around the world are spending trillions of dollars to help speed up recovery efforts. And there is some very good news.
Many of these plans are prioritizing green investments in an effort to speed up recovery.
Large projects like wind and solar farms require a lot of workers. By dramatically increasing the number of renewable energy projects, renovating buildings, and adopting more sustainable practices, millions of new jobs will be created.
However, the world is on a timer, and it is not living up to its promises.
The speed at which these plans are carried out will be the deciding factor if the Paris Agreement goals can be met.
Robert has been following and writing about environmental stories for years at GreenGeeks. He believes that highlighting environmentally friendly practices can help promote change in every household.