According to the new report, the COVID-19 pandemic caused only a temporary reduction in carbon emissions and did not slow climate change. The video above shows two UN officials discussing the report.
The United in Science 2021 report was released Thursday by the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization.
“Last year, we estimated that there was a 5.6 percent drop in emissions and since the lifetime of carbon dioxide is so long, this one year anomaly in emissions doesn’t change the big picture,” WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said Thursday.
However, Taalas did find some positives in the climate change report.
“We saw some improvements in air quality, these short-lived gases, which are affecting air quality,” Taalas said. “Positive things have started to happen and the political interest to mitigate climate change is clearly growing.”
Among some of the other findings in the climate change report:
- Greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere continue at record levels.
- Rising global temperatures are fueling devastating extreme weather throughout the world. Examples include recent Hurricanes Nicholas, Ida and Henri.
- Billions of work hours have been lost through heat alone.
- The average global temperature for the past five years was among the highest on record.
- Because of the long-lasting effects of many emissions already released into the atmosphere, further impacts are inevitable.
The climate change report is expected to create more concern that countries will not achieve their goal of limiting the rise in global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius, set in the 2015 Paris Climate Accords.
“Now we are heading towards 2 to 3 degrees warming instead of 1.5 to 2 degrees,” Taalas said.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres agreed that “unless there are immediate, rapid and large scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions,” the goal will not be reached.
“We have reached the tipping point on the need for climate action. The disruption to our planet and our climate is already worse than we thought and it is moving faster than predicted,” Guterres said. “This report shows just how far off course we are.”