QUARTZ | The economic shutdown associated with coronavirus has taken a huge bite out of global greenhouse gas emissions. According to a recent analysis from the UK-based research outfit Carbon Brief, it could add up to the largest one-year drop in emissions in history: 2,000 metric tonnes of CO2, equal to about 5.5% of the planet’s 2019 carbon footprint. Before coronavirus, global emissions were expected to increase at least 1% this year.
That’s an astounding reversal. But it reveals a stark reality: Even sustained emissions reductions on this scale wouldn’t be enough to limit global warming to 1.5 Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the goal set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement. To make that possible, emissions need to drop 7.6% every year this decade, according to the UN.