Many of us thought that, if Covid-19 had some silver lining, it would be in a sharp reduction of atmospheric CO2. Air travel all but defunct, fewer of us behind the wheel, that had to pay off somehow. We saw the photos. The Himalayas were clearly visible from cities in India where, for years, the smog hid them. Clear skies over Chinese cities. Something good was coming from the pandemic.
Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have risen strongly to a new peak this year, despite the impact of the global effects of the coronavirus crisis.
The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere reached 417.2 parts per million in May, 2.4ppm higher than the peak of 414.8ppm in 2019, according to readings from the Mauna Loa observatory in the US.
Without worldwide lockdowns intended to slow the spread of Covid-19, the rise might have reached 2.8ppm, according to Ralph Keeling, a professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. He said it was likely they had played a small role, but that the difference was too small to show up against other factors causing year-to-year fluctuations.
...As lockdowns are eased, however, the fall in emissions for the year as a whole is only likely to be only between 4% and 7% compared with 2019. That will make no appreciable difference to the world’s ability to meet the goals of the Paris agreement.
...John Sauven, the executive director of Greenpeace UK, called on the British government to do more as hosts of the next UN climate talks, Cop26, now postponed until 2021. “Just a few months of lower emissions were never likely to make a dent in the hundreds of billions tonnes of carbon that have built up over a century and a half of burning fossil fuels,” he said.
“That’s why the drop in emissions caused by the pandemic will remain just a blip unless governments get serious about building a cleaner, healthier and safer world.”