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Sharp increase in 2020: Almost a third of the CO2 comes from China

Strong increase in 2020
Almost a third of the CO2 comes from China

The corona pandemic led to a decrease in CO2 emissions worldwide in 2020. But this effect disappears with the economic recovery, and it is happening particularly quickly in China. The share of the most populous country in global greenhouse gas emissions is increasing.

The global CO2 emissions, which are primarily responsible for climate change, will again almost reach the level of before the corona pandemic this year. This emerges from the climate report of the research project Global Carbon Project 2021, which will be published on Thursday on the occasion of the world climate conference COP26 in Glasgow. China, which recovered from the economic consequences of the pandemic faster than the rest of the world, was responsible for 31 percent of CO2 emissions in 2020. In previous years it was only about 25 percent.

If this year’s trends continue, a further increase in global emissions in 2022 cannot be ruled out, the researchers said. This is especially true if road and air traffic return to their previous levels and coal consumption remains stable. The energy sector and industry are responsible for the sharp increase in CO2 emissions in China.

Worldwide, CO2 emissions from fossil fuels fell by 5.4 percent due to the Corona measures in 2020. For this year, however, the new report predicts an increase of 4.9 percent. Emissions from coal use are forecast to be above 2019 levels in 2021, but still below the 2014 peak. Emissions from the use of natural gas are also expected to rise above the 2019 level in 2021, thus continuing the upward trend that has persisted for at least 60 years. Only the CO2 emissions from crude oil will remain well below the 2019 level in 2021.

“The rapid increase in emissions caused by the economic recovery from the pandemic increases the need for immediate action against climate change,” said Pierre Friedlingstein of the Global Systems Institute in Exeter. He led the study, which also included scientists from East Anglia University, Cicero and Stanford University. The investments in the green economy in the economic stimulus programs of some countries have so far not been sufficient to reverse the trend. However, the economic slump caused by the corona pandemic seems to have accelerated the transition to renewable energies.

CO2 budget used up in eleven years?

For the EU, the Global Carbon Project predicts an increase in greenhouse gas emissions of 7.6 percent in 2021 compared to 2020. The emissions would then be 4.2 percent lower than in 2019. In Germany, emissions in 2020 were 9.7 percent below the level of 2019. According to the report, emissions in the United States will increase this year by 7.6 percent compared to 2020, but remain 3.7 percent below the level of 2019. The US was responsible for 14 percent of global emissions in 2020.

In India, emissions will increase by 12.6 percent compared to 2020 and 4.4 percent above 2019 levels. The subcontinent is responsible for seven percent of global emissions this year. The People’s Republic of China has been responsible for a quarter of global CO2 emissions since 2007.

In order to have a 50 percent chance of stopping global warming at 1.5 degrees, the world’s remaining CO2 budget has shrunk to 420 billion tons according to the Global Carbon Project and would be at the level of 2021 with CO2 emissions used up in eleven years.

The COP26 runs until November 12th. 197 nations are negotiating in Glasgow on the further implementation of the Paris Climate Protection Agreement of 2015. The agreement provides for global warming to be limited to well below two degrees, ideally 1.5 degrees, compared to the pre-industrial age. Experts and the UN warn, however, that the earth is currently heading for a warming of 2.7 degrees in this century.

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