The lead up to the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement was marked out by many as the year for climate action. So that record concentration of 418 parts per million? Webinar: What impact is Covid-19 having on global CO2 emissions? The decrease in emissions from … “It’s not like other pollution, where someone is putting something in the river and then they stop putting it in the river and [the] problem is solved. Indicators in all domains…are worsening. These studies were covered around the world in news articles and blogs. “We have reached a point where climate change impacts are visible to the naked eye,” Le Quéré says. She is the chair of the French High Council on Climate (A forecast that would prove to be very close to an estimate at the end of the year.). “We treat the atmosphere like this big waste dump,” says Ralph Keeling, a scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography whose lab runs the Mauna Loa long-term monitoring project of atmospheric CO2. They were also shared on social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. In a piece for the Conversation, University College London’s Prof Mark Maslin described the study as a “brilliant thought experiment”, but highlighted some reservations, including a focus on a “worst case scenario” of climate change and not taking into account of the “dynamic and adaptable nature of human technology and society”. But over 80 percent of the water is still gushing into the tub, so the water level in the tub will still rise. corinne le quere Global CO2 emissions to drop 4-7% in 2020, but will it matter? By entering your email address you agree for your data to be handled in accordance with our Privacy Policy. Even with all this economic upheaval and the emotional toll of isolating, our emissions have dropped only 17 percent in the short term and will likely drop by less than 10 percent for the year. China’s emissions decreased by about a quarter in February. In the four months that people drove less, about 6 megatons of CO2 didn’t go into the atmosphere each day, equal to about 1.2 million American cars’ yearly mileage. IPCC Marker scenarios used for climate projections Updated from Le Quéré et al (2009) Nature Geoscience, using Marker scenarios modified from Raupach et al. Influential academics reveal how China can achieve its ‘carbon neutrality’ goal, Global Carbon Project: Coronavirus causes ‘record fall’ in fossil-fuel emissions in 2020. Corinne Le Quéré on tracing global carbon and climate change. Pep Canadell, CSIRO scientist and executive director of the Global Carbon Project, Professor Corinne Le Quéré is from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of East Anglia, and Glen Peters is a senior researcher at the Center for International Climate … That would work out to about 2.6 billion tons of carbon not added to the atmosphere. In-depth Q&A: Does the world need hydrogen to solve climate change? Over the first few months of 2020, global daily CO2 emissions averaged about 17 percent lower than in 2019. Study co-author Prof Simon Lewis, a professor of global change science at University College London and the University of Leeds, wrote a Carbon Brief guest post about the research when it was published. Last year was meant to be very different. You are welcome to reproduce unadapted material in full for non-commercial use, credited ‘Carbon Brief’ with a link to the article. —Corinne Le Quéré, lead author. The team also expected that at its seasonal low in September, it would be around 410 parts per million. “In a way, it’s hard to mentally reconcile that with just a small difference in emissions; it seems almost dismissive. Other countries saw drops of a few percent in March and April, a team led by Tsinghua University’s Zhu Liu found in a separate analysis. Q&A: What does the Brexit deal say about climate change and energy? It was mentioned in 715 online news stories by 398 outlets, in 109 posts from 63 blogs, and in more than 4,000 tweets – the most of any climate paper published last year for these categories. nature climate change (2020); SOURCE: Le Quéré et al. Samaras says that in no way represents what a concerted global effort to actually hit that goal would do. It was covered by 50 posts from 37 blogs and was tweeted 549 times – the smallest total of any paper in this Top 10. The finding that the world’s oceans could be restored within 30 years generated headlines in the Guardian, Press Association, BBC News, i newspaper and MailOnline, and was the subject of an editorial in the Times. During the crisis, people needed those almost as much as ever. The effects, in some ways, are big—but in other ways, not big enough, he says. Scientists have a pretty good idea of how much more atmospheric CO2 will accumulate each year: about half as much as we pump up there (the other half gets absorbed by plants and the oceans). Staying home, it is abundantly clear now, is far from enough to solve the climate crisis. In early April, coronavirus lockdowns led to a 17 percent reduction worldwide in carbon pollution compared to the same period last year, according to the first peer-reviewed assessment of the pandemic's impact on CO2 emissions, published in Nature Climate Change. “We’ve probably done as much as we can, personally, to reduce our own emissions during this devastating time.”, So, he says, “it’s not about going back to the way things were, but to a better way.”. In widespread news coverage, the study was covered by the Washington Post, Financial Times, Reuters, New Scientist, Guardian, BBC News, Independent, MailOnline and Sky News. However, the world could avoid 0.3C of further warming by 2050 if governments invest in a strong “green recovery” from the coronavirus pandemic, the researchers say. Using Altmetric data for 2020, Carbon Brief has compiled its annual list of the 25 most talked-about climate change-related papers that were published the previous year. 2020, Nature Climate Change. The study comes in with a score of 2,784. Warmest five years on record. Last year was truly extraordinary for press and social media attention of scientific journal papers. Webinar: Do we need to stop eating meat and dairy to tackle climate change? The review study “document[s] the recovery of marine populations, habitats and ecosystems following past conservation interventions”. “We have to recognize that, and to recognize that technological, behavioral, and structural change is the best and only way to reduce emissions.”. If declines continue at this pace, many of these species could vanish forever within a few decades.”. Rapid growth in CO 2 emissions after the 2008–2009 global financial crisis . It might not fill quite as quickly as it did before, but it’s definitely not draining completely. For example, the researchers find that the ice sheet’s “temperature sensitivity is 1.3 metres of sea-level equivalent per degree of warming up to 2C above pre-industrial levels”, which almost doubles to “2.4C per degree of warming between 2 and 6C”. Receive a Daily or Weekly summary of the most important articles direct to your inbox, just enter your email below. Across the Top 25 papers identified here, the journal that features most frequently is Nature, with six papers in total. Even construction slowed down. The other huge change was in surface transport such as cars and trucks, where daily activity sank an average of 50 percent. Daily emissions from cars and trucks fell 36 percent, and aviation emissions declined by 60 percent. Nature Climate Change, 2020/Global Carbon Project), CC BY. Think of the atmosphere as a bathtub. A review of the impacts of … She is Professor of Climate Change Science and Policy at the University of East Anglia and former Director of Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. Winds of change. The annual report is the latest in a project involving 35 academic institutions and UN agencies from across the world, which began in 2015. Indeed, 2020 followed a year where climate change had been propelled onto newspaper front pages by Greta Thunberg, school strikes and Extinction Rebellion. The paper presents new ocean heat content data, which revealed that “the world’s oceans in 2019 were the warmest in recorded human history”. The paper clocked in with an overall Altmetric score of 6,174. They forecast that in May, at the peak of the gas’s annual seasonal cycle, its concentration would probably hover around 417 ppm (and sure enough, in early May the station saw a concentration of just over 418 parts per million.) During this unprecedented, deadly global event, millions of people who could stay at home did just that. “Climate change is a cumulative problem,” says Peters. The research, which uses satellite data, suggests that erosion driven by rising sea levels could cause “the near extinction of almost half of the world’s sandy beaches by the end of the century”. Among the outlets that covered the study were Reuters, CNN, Inside Climate News, Axios, the Daily Express, Forbes and MailOnline. nature climate change (2020); global carbon project The pandemic has disrupted life around the world, and stay-at-home orders have kept large swaths of … Its lead author is Dr Chi Xu, an ecologist at Nanjing University in China. My research has contributed to understanding how climate change and variability affects the land and ocean carbon sinks, and understanding the drivers of CO 2 emissions. About 45 percent of the world’s CO2 waste generally comes from making heat and power. Just missing out on the Top 5 is “Dynamic ice loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet driven by sustained glacier retreat”, which is the first-ever article published in Nature’s new online journal Communications Earth & Environment. But it also shouldn’t be taken as an indication that efforts would be futile. When a momentous event like this pandemic happens to push CO2 emissions down, it’s as if the bath’s tap has been shut by 17 percent. That’s barely different than what the team expected without the coronavirus-related impacts. As lead author Peter Soroye told the Press Association when the paper was published: “We found that populations were disappearing in areas where the temperatures had gotten hotter. As normal life was turned upside down, newspaper headlines and social media conversations were dominated by lockdowns, vaccines and infection rates. The IPCC’s 2.7 degrees F goals suggest that we need to get back to 1990s emissions levels within about a decade. The study shows that, for thousands of years, “humans have concentrated in a surprisingly narrow subset of Earth’s available climates, characterised by mean annual temperatures around 13C”. In 12th, with a score of 2,224, is “Climate change is increasing the likelihood of extreme autumn wildfire conditions across California“. The ocean and land, which absorb or use up some of that CO2, are the drain—but even when they’re wide open, they can only let out half the water that comes in. Nature Climate Change Government policies during the COVID-19 pandemic have drastically altered patterns of energy demand around the world. Update: This piece was updated on 20/01/2021 to add a mention of Altmetric’s newly published Top 100 for 2020. In 19th is “Current and future global climate impacts resulting from Covid-19”, published in Nature Climate Change, with a score of 1,927. Analysis: The climate papers most featured in the media in 2020. The research finds that retreating glaciers resulted in a “step-change” in Greenland ice sheet melt in the early 2000s and a “switch to a new dynamic state of sustained mass loss that would persist even under a decline in surface melt”. In the 25th and final place is the Nature paper “Slower decay of landfalling hurricanes in a warming world”, which finds that landfalling hurricanes are now taking longer to weaken as they move inland than they were 50 years ago.). (See how your city might change by 2070 if climate change isn’t addressed). Which climate-related journal papers made the biggest media splash in 2020? Analysing weather station data from around the world, the researchers find that some coastal subtropical locations have already reported wet-bulb temperatures of 35C and “that extreme humid heat overall has more than doubled in frequency since 1979”. Taking the final spot in the Top 10 is “The emergence of heat and humidity too severe for human tolerance” in Science Advances, with a score of 2,400. Such a stark finding garnered widespread press and social media attention, including 358 news stories from 317 outlets, 23 posts from 19 blogs and more than 600 tweets. The study finds that the temporary dip in global emissions will only prevent around 0.01C of warming. Le Quéré et al. The International Energy Agency estimates that by the end of 2020, global emissions will decline by about 8 percent compared to last year. We can’t just sweep it away.”. 2021 National Geographic Partners, LLC. Shorelines will retreat as sea levels rise, but beaches “will survive”, they say, adding that “the biggest threat to the continued existence of beaches is coastal defence structures that limit their ability to migrate.”. Emissions soon returned to their previous path almost as if the crisis had not occurred. The study was led by Dr Michalis I Vousdoukas, a coastal oceanography researcher at the European Commission Joint Research Centre. Eventually, of course, they need to get to zero. In short, even though emissions have dropped, CO2 is still going into the atmosphere and it will still accumulate there, just as it has since humans started burning vast amounts of fossil fuels. The study concludes: “The findings imply that shifts in Earth ecosystems occur over ‘human’ timescales of years and decades, meaning the collapse of large vulnerable ecosystems, such as the Amazon rainforest and Caribbean coral reefs, may take only a few decades once triggered.”. It’s all our emissions in the past that matter.”. Daily global greenhouse gas emissions declined 17 percent by early April compared to 2019 levels due to coronavirus-related shutdowns around the world, according to new research published in the journal Nature Climate Change. The Nature Climate Change team estimates that drop to be somewhere between 4 to 7 percent, depending on the way lockdowns develop over the rest of the year. In seventh place, with a score of 2,543, is the Nature paper “Temperate rainforests near the South Pole during peak Cretaceous warmth“. Air travel ground to a halt. This study presents evidence that the parts of West Antarctica was covered with temperate rainforests during the mid-Cretaceous period – one of the warmest intervals of the past 140m years. The findings, he explained, suggest that “the ability of intact tropical forests to remove CO2 from the atmosphere reached its peak in the 1990s and has since been in decline”. It affects literally everyone on the planet,” says Anna Michalak, a scientist at Stanford’s Carnegie Institution for Science. In the six years that Carbon Brief has been undertaking this annual review, 2018 was the first year where a paper – on any topic – hit an Altmetric score of more than 10,000. In individual nations, emissions decreased by an average of 26% at the peak of … The paper was covered by 229 online news stories from 175 outlets across the world, including the New York Times, USA Today, CNN, Guardian, BBC News, Independent, Sun, Times of India, South China Morning Post and Der Spiegel. Percentage change in global daily fossil CO2 emissions, since Jan. 4, 2020. The study featured in 739 online news articles from 405 outlets, including the New York Times, Washington Post, New Scientist, CNN and USA Today. Nature Climate Change 2019 based on data from the International Energy Agency) Advertisement. Guest post: How energy-efficient LED bulbs lit up India in just five years, Budget 2020: Key climate and energy announcements, Guest post: How to ‘fairly’ share emissions from goods traded around the world, Analysis: China’s new 2030 targets promise more low-carbon power than meets the eye, Climate strikers: Open letter to EU leaders on why their new climate law is ‘surrender’, Europe ‘could get 10 times’ its electricity needs from onshore wind, study says, In-depth Q&A: Why Ireland is ‘nowhere near’ meeting its climate-change goals, UNEP: Net-zero pledges provide an ‘opening’ to close growing emissions ‘gap’, Guest post: How the global coronavirus stimulus could put Paris Agreement on track, US election tracker 2020: Democrats and Republicans on energy and climate. But planes only make up about 3 percent of the CO2 emissions problem, so even that giant decrease has had only a small effect on the gushing of the CO2 “tap.”. The biggest change in activity was in aviation; it dropped by an average of 75 percent by early April. (There is also another paper on Greenland in the Top 25, with “Return to rapid ice loss in Greenland and record loss in 2019 detected by the GRACE-FO satellites” in 16th place. (There is also a second study on tropical cyclones in the Top 25. Human-driven CO2 emissions are like the water coming out of the tap. Their forecasts are usually remarkably accurate. I Chair France's High Council on climate and am a member of the UK Committee on Climate Change. “The extent to which world leaders consider climate change when planning their economic responses post COVID-19 will influence the global CO2 emissions paths for decades to come,” says Le Quéré. It was the Nature Climate Change paper, “Temporary reduction in daily global CO2 emissions during the Covid-19 forced confinement”, by Prof Corinne Le Quéré, a Royal Society research professor of climate change science at the University of East Anglia, and colleagues." Le Quéré … “We would probably need, like, a 20 percent reduction for the whole year—so every month, for the whole world, like April. At the moments of the most restrictive and extensive lockdowns, emissions in some countries hovered nearly 30 percent below last year’s averages, says Glen Peters, one of the authors of the Nature Climate Change analysis and a climate scientist at Norway’s Center for International Climate Research. ARTICLES NATURE CLIMATE CHANGE followed by a growth in emissions of +5.1% in 201020, well above the long-term average. Landing in eighth place is another polar paper – “Fasting season length sets temporal limits for global polar bear persistence”. 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