Carbon dioxide emissions in 2020 fell by 7%, or 2.4 billion metric tonnes, shattering previous records of annual declines, such as 0.9 billion metric tonnes at the end of World War II or 0.5 billion metric tonnes in 2009 when the global financial crisis hit.
Emissions from road transport and aviation, which have been responsible for the largest share of the global decrease, were also below their levels by about 10 percent and 40 percent as of December, since COVID-19 restrictions are still in place. Researchers say that the decrease in emissions from transportation contributed in a big way for this decrease in Carbon dioxide emissions. Those from surface transport, such as auto journeys, fell by approximately half at the peak of the Covid lockdowns, the study noted.
"Incentives that help accelerate the deployment of electric cars and renewable energy and support walking and cycling in cities are particularly timely, given the extensive disturbance observed in the transport sector this year", she added. United States emissions were down 12 percent, while the European Union-excluding the UK-saw a drop of 11 percent. Carbon balances are an estimate of the total amount of CO2 equivalent emissions that can be allowed in order to maintain a 66% chance of staying within the Paris Agreement target of capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius this century. India's emissions were already lower than normal late a year ago because of economic turmoil and strong hydropower generation, the report said.
The UK is projected to have reduced its carbon emissions by 13% over the year, with its second national lockdown restrictions attributed to this significant decrease.
In the rest of the world-where, like China, emissions were trending upward before the pandemic-the emissions drop is projected to be just 7%. According to researchers from the University of East Anglia (UEA), the University of Exeter, and the Global Carbon Project, this is a record drop.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday appealed for ambitious climate action, saying 2021 must be the year in which the world leaps forward into a net-zero emissions future.
However, the reduction in emission levels is only temporary, and it may rebound beyond the 2019 levels in the next year. While pandemic restrictions did lower emissions in China, that happened at the same time that emissions overall in the country were increasing (China also controlled infections within its borders much faster).
Daily global carbon emissions dropped by 17 percent when lockdown measures were at their maximum in April, particularly across the European Union and the U.S., but have since surged and neared 2019 levels again, according to the data provided by the Global Carbon Project.
Land and ocean carbon sinks continue to increase in line with emissions, absorbing about 54% of the total human-induced emissions.