In the coronavirus pandemic, carbon emissions have fallen, but climate change remains an existential threat
Added 03-29-20 05:11:02pm EST - “In a world desperate for good news about the coronavirus, a dip in global carbon emissions caused by the outbreak's economic downturn might be seen as a silver lining. But climate scientists and policy experts aren't encouraged.?…” - News.yahoo.com
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SAN FRANCISCO — In a world desperate for good news about the coronavirus, a dip in global carbon emissions caused by the outbreak’s economic downturn might be seen as a silver lining. But climate scientists and policy experts aren’t encouraged.
Global oil demand has plummeted by an estimated 20 percent as economies around the world have ground to a halt, cars and trucks have been idled and dramatically fewer jets leave contrails across the sky. As expected, March data compiled by San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography appears to show the rate of rise of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere has slowed. For those who have spent decades warning that the world needs to transition to a sustainable model of energy, however, there’s little to cheer about.
“This isn’t the way we want to reduce emissions,” Rob Jackson, professor of Earth system science at Stanford University and one of the world’s leading experts on climate change, told Yahoo News. “We don’t want millions or hundreds of millions of people being out of work as a tool for curtailing economic activity and cutting emissions.”
Jackson, one of the authors of a September report by the World Meteorological Organization, and his colleagues warned of the urgent need for “concrete actions” to reduce carbon emissions, meet the goals of the Paris Agreement and keep the average global temperature from rising 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. While the relative dip in carbon emissions from the economic disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic is unprecedented, Jackson said, it’s unlikely to be enough to have real impact.
“There is this narrative that to make 1.5 degrees, we have to reduce emissions by 7 percent a year,” Jackson said. “That’s basically impossible without a complete global shutdown, which is what we’re seeing now. So it will be interesting to see if we can even make 7 percent this year and I’m skeptical that we will. Emissions will clearly be down this year, there’s no doubt about that, but they won’t be down for the right reason.”
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