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World carbon emissions see record drop amid coronavirus pandemic

World carbon emissions see record drop amid coronavirus pandemic
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Global greenhouse gas emissions experienced a record drop this year amid the coronavirus pandemic as lockdown measures reduced the amount of pollution from human activities, according to a study released Friday from researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA), University of Exeter and the Global Carbon Project.

The study found that in 2020, greenhouse gas emissions around the world totaled 2.4 billion tons, a 7 percent decrease from 2019 and the largest drop on record. 

The researchers noted that pandemic restrictions accelerated drops in carbon emissions from the use of coal in electricity production and oil in transportation. This was especially apparent in the U.S., which had the largest decline in carbon emissions at 12 percent, followed by the European Union with an 11 percent drop. 

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The report stated that the emissions from transportation accounted for the largest share of the decrease, with “surface transport,” including car travel, falling by approximately half during the height of coronavirus lockdown measures. 

By December 2020, emissions from road transportation and aviation remained below their 2019 levels, by approximately 10 percent and 40 percent, respectively. 

The study noted that these findings come just one day before the fifth anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Paris Agreement, in which countries committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to limit global warming. 

In 2017, President TrumpDonald TrumpFreedom Caucus member condemns GOP group pushing 'Anglo-Saxon political traditions' MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell's new free speech site to ban certain curse words Secret Facebook groups of special operations officers include racist comments, QAnon posts: report MORE announced that he would pull the U.S. out of the agreement, citing unfair terms for American businesses and workers. 

In Friday’s report, the researchers said that despite the decrease in emissions in 2020, emissions in 2021 are expected to be dependent on what actions governments take to fuel economic growth in response to the pandemic.  

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“All elements are not yet in place for sustained decreases in global emission, and emissions are slowly edging back to 2019 levels,” Corinne Le Quéré, professor at the UEA’s School of Environmental Sciences, said in a statement. 

“Government actions to stimulate the economy at the end of the COVID-19 pandemic can also help lower emissions and tackle climate change,” the researcher continued. “Incentives that help accelerate the deployment of electric cars and renewable energy and support walking and cycling in cities are particularly timely given the extensive disturbance observed in the transport sector this year.”

News from the study comes even as 2020 saw a record amount of land damaged by wildfires in the Western part of the U.S., with experts noting that climate change strongly influenced the intensity of the record blazes. 

This year also saw the most active Atlantic hurricane season on record, damaging countries in Central America, as well as Louisiana and other Gulf Coast states.