According to a new climate change assessment that was launched by the United Nations (UN) secretary-general Antonio Guterres on September 9, the Covid-19 lockdowns have made a dent on global greenhouse gas emissions — but this is not nearly enough. Following a sharp fall in early April of 17% from 2019 levels, by June, as economies started opening up, daily emissions rose to within 5% of last year’s record levels. The United In Science report has been compiled by the World Meteorological Organization based on its findings, along with the findings of five other global science bodies. The report said that the final levels of emissions for 2020 would be 4-7% less than in 2019. However, on a larger scale, the world hasn’t moved forward on combating the climate crisis.
To limit global heating to less than a 2 degree Celsius rise above pre-industrial levels by 2100, emissions need to fall by 5% every year. This year, the pandemic took care of this but there is no doubt that governments must do much more. Between 2020 and 2024, global temperatures are likely to breach the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold in multiple months. The world is now 1.1 degrees warmer than pre-industrial times, and 2016-2020 is set to be the hottest period ever since records began to be kept. This, and the fact that global sea levels are rising, shows that the climate crisis is intensifying. It is clear that countries must reduce carbon emissions over the next 10 years. The shift away from fossil fuels to renewable energy needs to be scaled up if catastrophic levels of temperature rise are to be averted. As countries seek to reboot their Covid-ravaged economies, the assessment comes as a grave warning.