Covid-19 has not stopped climate change, UN warns

By Mario Villar

United Nations, Sep 9 (efe-epa).- Economic shutdowns around the world to curb the spread of Covid-19 temporarily reduced greenhouse gas emissions but did not stop the rapid advance of the climate crisis, according to a multi-agency report published by the United Nations Wednesday.

The World Meteorological Agency and the UN said the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere was its highest level in three million years and is rising, with the world set to see its warmest-ever five year period.

UN secretary-general António Guterres said: “This has been an unprecedented year for people and planet. The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted lives worldwide. At the same time, the heating of our planet and climate disruption has continued apace.”

“Never before has it been so clear that we need long-term, inclusive, clean transitions to tackle the climate crisis and achieve sustainable development.

“We must turn the recovery from the pandemic into a real opportunity to build a better future.”

WMO secretary-general Professor Petteri Taalas said: “This report shows that whilst many aspects of our lives have been disrupted in 2020, climate change has continued unabated.”

The report estimates that global CO2 emissions would drop between four and seven percent in 2020 as a consequence of widespread economic slowdowns enforced to curtail the spread of the virus.

Emissions decreased 17 percent in April year-on-year, the height of the first wave of the pandemic, but by June they had already returned to just below the unprecedented global daily output levels logged in 2019, when a record 36.7 gigatonnes of CO2 were released into the atmosphere, 62 percent more than when climate negotiations began in 1990.

The drop in emissions output in April was similar to figures recorded in 2006.

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