The world is back to nearly 2019 CO2 pollution levels

The world is back to nearly 2019 CO2 pollution levels

A new scientific study concludes that the significant declines in carbon dioxide emissions caused by the pandemic have largely disappeared in a cloud of coal smoke, mostly from China.

A group of scientists track the greenhouse gases that cause climate change He said emissions in the first nine months of this year were slightly lower than in 2019. They estimate the world will have emitted 36.4 billion tons of carbon dioxide in 2021, compared to 36.7 billion tons two years ago.

At the height of the pandemic last year, emissions fell to 34.8 billion metric tons, so this year’s jump is 4.9%, according to updated calculations from the Global Carbon Project.

While most countries have returned to pre-pandemic trends, increased pollution in China was largely responsible for bringing global numbers back to 2019 levels rather than dropping significantly below them, said study co-author Corinne Liqueur, a climate scientist at East University. Anglia in the United Kingdom.

With significantly cleaner air by 2020 in cities from India to Italy, some people may have hoped the world would be on the right track to reduce carbon pollution, but scientists said that was not the case.

“The pandemic is not going to get us out of here,” Lockery said in an interview at Climate Talks in Glasgow, where she and her colleagues presented their findings. It’s the decisions that will be made this week and next week. This is what will make us turn the corner. The pandemic will not change the nature of our economy.”

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The newspaper said that if the world were to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius since pre-industrial times, at current emissions levels, there would be only 11 years left before it was too late. The global temperature has risen 1.1°C (2°F) since the late 19th century.

“What the carbon emissions numbers show is that emissions (correction for the decline and recovery of COVID19) are now basically stabilizing. That’s good news,” said Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Penn State University, who was not part of the report. . reduce (emissions)”.

emissions in China The study was 7% higher in 2021 than it was in 2019. By comparison, India’s emissions were only 3% higher. In contrast, the United States, the European Union and the rest of the world pollute less this year than in 2019.

Likouri said China’s jump came mainly from burning coal and natural gas and was part of a massive economic stimulus to recover from the lockdown. In addition, she said, China’s lockdown ended much earlier than the rest of the world, so the country had more time to recover economically and pump more carbon into the air.

Liqueur said the “green recovery” that many countries talked about in their stimulus packages is taking longer to cut emissions as booming economies use the energy mix they already have.

The numbers are based on government data on energy consumption, travel, industrial production and other factors. This year, emissions averaged 115 tons of carbon dioxide released into the air every second.

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“There is a good chance that 2022 will set a new record for global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels,” said Zeke Hausfather, director of climate at the Breakthrough Institute, who was not part of the study.


For more AP climate coverage:


Follow Seth Borenstein on Twitter: @ Burenbeers.


The Associated Press’s Department of Health and Science is supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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