Lockdowns around the world led to an unprecedented fall in emissions of about 7% in 2020, or about 2.6bn tonnes of CO2. However, for sufficient change to be made there has to be reductions of between 1bn and 2bn tonnes every year for the next decade, as required by the Paris Agreement.
Since lockdowns were eased in many countries last year, there have been strong signs that emissions will rise again to above 2019 levels, severely damaging the prospects of fulfilling the Paris goals. One of these goals included trying to maintain temperature rises to within 1.5C or 2C of pre-industrial levels.
It has been made clear by the UN Climate change, NDC climate report, published on the 28 February that Governments must prioritise climate action in their efforts to recover from the pandemic.
Corinne Le Quéré, a co-author of the study, agreed saying: “We have failed to understand in the past that we can’t tackle climate change as a side issue. It can’t be about one law or policy, it has to be put at the heart of all policy,” she said. “Every strategy and every plan from every government must be consistent with tackling climate change.”
So although the numbers are still astounding, and undoing climate change is being portrayed as the unwinnable fight, Covid-19 has provided an “unprecedented opportunity” as said by Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
She continued by saying that 2021 gives the world the opportunity to make significant progress on climate change and urged all nations to build forward from Covid-19 with more sustainable and climate-resilient economies. “This is a rare moment that cannot be lost,” Espinosa said.