Scientists at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany have revealed the true impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the Earth’s climate. It turned out that the reduction in carbon emissions due to the pandemic has not yet affected the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The study, published in the journal Remote Sensing, is summarized in a press release on Phys.org.
The researchers analyzed data on the content of gas in different layers of the atmosphere, obtained using high-precision infrared spectrometers. Minor changes caused by the pandemic are difficult to detect directly due to ongoing anthropogenic emissions and natural variability due to rivers and vegetation cover. Therefore, the data were compared with forecasts of atmospheric carbon stock for 2020.
The pandemic is estimated to have resulted in an eight percent reduction in carbon emissions in 2020, due to a decrease in car traffic as well as a decrease in the number of flights. However, to reduce the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the restrictions must be extended for decades, although even such measures may not be sufficient.
According to experts, the goal of the Paris Climate Agreement to limit global warming by 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial values can only be achieved through an immediate significant reduction in carbon dioxide emissions and their further reduction. This means that each year, emissions need to be reduced by eight percent (of current emissions), gradually bringing them to zero by 2055.