Covid-fuelled emissions reductions not enough to meet climate targets

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Covid-fuelled emissions reductions not enough to meet climate targets
CREDIT: JRC/EU

Covid-fuelled emissions reductions are not enough to meet climate targets.

THE unprecedented emissions reductions fuelled by the pandemic can help break from the trend of ever-growing global greenhouse gas emissions, but more must be done to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement, warns a new report.

The Covid-19 mobility restrictions have led to the greatest slump in mobility demand in recent history, with reductions in transport emissions accounting for the greatest part of the overall reduction in 2020.

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And the pandemic has accelerated some investment trends, technology choices and changes in behaviour, which could eventually push the global energy system into a ‘new normal’.

A report by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre indicates that if these new patterns are sustained, global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions might never go beyond their historical high recorded in 2019.

However, a return to business-as-usual trends would see emissions rise again, warns the EC.


The report emphasises that even though these ‘new normal’ changes could be enough to break the trend of growing global GHG emissions, they are not enough to reach the targets of the Paris Agreement.

The projections show that the pandemic has significantly altered previous emissions trends, but the reductions have only closed the emissions gap towards limiting temperature rise to 2°C by about 35 per cent.

“This gives a strong signal that more ambitious actions are needed to maintain the global temperature change to well below 2°C by 2100, as expected by the Paris Agreement,” said the EC in a statement.


“The analysis reveals the important challenges that countries are facing when aiming for big emissions reductions without causing damage to economic activities,” it added.

But the authors of the report remain hopeful.

They see the pandemic and the resulting changes as an opportunity for governments to bolster a green recovery and to accelerate investments in clean energy and energy efficiency.


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