Report: Global emissions dropped 7 percent in 2020

Now that 2020 is finally coming to a close, we are now able to see just how impactful imposed lockdowns and restrictions were on global carbon emissions this year.

According to the Global Carbon Project, the pandemic saw emissions cut by an estimated 2.4 billion metric tons, which is a 7 percent drop from the year before. That marks the biggest drop in emissions the world has ever seen, shattering the previous record that came at the end of World War II.

Researchers indicated a multitude of reasons for this stunning drop in emissions. To start with, many people were forced to stay at home and were traveling less by plane or car. This caused emissions from road transport to fall by roughly half in April when the first wave of the coronavirus was at its peak and fell 10 percent year-on-year by December. Meanwhile, emissions from aviation were down by 40 percent in 2020.

While transportation accounted for the largest share of the global decrease in emissions, a slowing of industrial activity also played a big role. In some countries, industrial activity was down some 30 percent due to lockdown measures. The Deutsche Welle reports that the US saw the biggest drop in emissions, down 12 percent from the year before, while China experienced an emissions reduction of just 1.7 percent as the country kickstarted its economic recovery early.

While we can be pleased to see emissions drop for once, it comes with the realization that as the world reopens in the coming year, emissions will be poised to rise again. The hope, however, is that more people will become environmentally conscious now that it’s abundantly clear how human activity causes emissions.

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