Does CoVID-19 actually have an impact on climate change? Unfortunately… no!

While nearly the entire world sat cooped up indoors due to a coronavirus pandemic, scientists have seen significant decreases in air pollution and carbon emissions, but does it actually make any long-term difference?

Now, several months later, we know more and more about the situation and how it fits into the overall picture of climate change. Unfortunately, a new report from the World Meteorological Organization is not optimistic, as it shows that carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are climbing to record levels, without any sign of slowing down. So it appears that while the lockdown did indeed lock most of us indoors and cause extreme, as scientists called it, drops in levels of dangerous emissions (with carbon dioxide concentrations as high as 17%), it was only temporary.

Or, to be more precise, we’ve seen both record declines and record highs at the same time, because these revelations are only seemingly mutually exclusive. In fact, they show how little short-term action has to say about climate change, and prove that we need to do much more to actually reverse adverse trends. In short, although monthly values for carbon dioxide levels have indeed fallen dramatically, overall – e.g. on an annual basis – this has had little effect on its overall concentration in the atmosphere, so something more is needed to stop decades of uncontrolled environmental poisoning.

A new report titled United in Science 2020, created by experts from the United Nations, the Global Carbon Project, the UK Met Office and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, well illustrates this trend, which is at its best, even now that much of the world still has not returned to its normal life and is still dealing with the effects of a pandemic. Scientists measured the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere on a parts per million (ppm) system, with an assumption of levels below 350 ppm as safe for life on the planet. Unfortunately, measurements from many sites around the world show not only too high levels, but also an increase from last year.

And so, at Mauna Loa in Hawaii we had 414.38 ppm this July, up from 411.74 ppm last year, and at Cape Grim in Australia we have 410.04 ppm, and last year it was 407.83 ppm – and we’re talking about places where the levels are relatively lower than in more industrialized regions of the world. – This has been an unprecedented year for people and the planet. The COVID-19 pandemic interrupted our lives around the world. At the same time, climate warming and pollution continued. Never before has it been so clear that we need long-term, safe solutions to address the climate crisis and achieve sustainable development. We need to turn recovery from pandemics into a real opportunity to build a better future. We need science, solidarity and solutions,” comments UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

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