Global Warming: Lockdown Gave the Planet a Break, but Didn’t Stop Climate Change | Skymet Weather Service – Skymet Weather
The world comes alive after a year-long lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, people leave aside the endless series and games at: https://nationalcasino.com/en_ca/live-casino/live-roulette, and joyfully go out into the fresh air. Along with the economy, greenhouse gas emissions are rapidly returning to pre-colonial heights. That’s bad news for a planet that hasn’t stopped heating up despite the viral respite, stopped factories, empty roads, and plane-free skies.
“Action must be taken immediately. There is no inoculation against planetary pollution,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau described the sentiment of world leaders gathered for a virtual climate summit Thursday.
On the eve of the summit, international organizations warned that the pandemic had distracted the world from the problem of global warming, but had not eliminated it.
“The world is on the precipice,” U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said after hearing a report from the World Meteorological Organization. It said the past decade has been the hottest on record, and no matter what humanity does, the trend cannot be reversed in the coming decades – only its effects can be mitigated.
“After this report, it’s clear – there’s not a day to lose. The climate is changing, and it is costing the planet and the people who inhabit it very dearly. This year must be a year of decisive action. All countries must commit to neutralizing emissions by 2050 and by 2030 to reduce them by 45% from 2010 levels,” said Guterres.
To curb warming, almost all countries in the world have agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to keep global temperature rise within 1.5 degrees of pre-industrial levels. This goal is enshrined in the Paris Agreement, but environmentalists have long warned that it is outdated.
The Paris Agreement got a second wind after the change of power in the U.S. in the November 2020 elections. Republicans ceded the White House and Senate to Democrats, and new President Joe Biden reversed Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.
Biden Is Happy, Greta Is Not
Moreover, he decided not to wait for the November climate summit in Glasgow, where countries will decide whether to make increased commitments to reduce emissions and called four dozen world leaders to a virtual meeting this week, including Russian President Vladimir Putin as well as Xi Jinping, the leader of China, the only country in the world that smokes more sky than the United States.
By Friday, at the conclusion of the two-day summit, the countries that account for half the world’s economy will have pledged to cut emissions enough to meet the goals stated in the Paris Agreement. Then it will be easier to negotiate the additional reductions scientists are demanding in Glasgow.
At least that is what the White House hopes, which has decided to prove its seriousness and not only return to the club of global warming fighters but also make increased climate commitments.
Biden announced Thursday that the U.S., the second-largest source of emissions after China, would cut emissions in half by 2030 from 2005 levels. Under the previous Democratic president, Barack Obama, the promises were about half as modest. And Trump abandoned them altogether.
“The cost of inaction is increasing every day. The U.S. is not going to procrastinate. We have an obligation to act more decisively. It’s time for action – for all of us,” the American president said at the summit.
The day before Biden’s cry, the Old World was ahead of the game. The European Union raised its greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal to 55% from the previous 40% by 2030 from 1990. It made a commitment not by a declaration or a statement, but by law – it will be almost impossible to win back, and certainly not as easy as it was when the U.S. president was replaced.
Soon after that came promises from our allies. Japan raised the bar to 46% from 26%, Canada to 40-45% from 30%.
Activist Greta Thunberg spoiled the feast of world unity in climate austerity. She was not invited to the summit, but on the same day she was speaking (virtually) nearby – in Congress, on a committee of the House of Representatives.
“It’s 2021. And we’re still debating, and what’s more, subsidizing fossil fuels at taxpayer expense – directly or indirectly. It’s a disgrace,” 18-year-old Greta told off the congressmen, true to her stern manner with politicians and officials.
“Here’s proof to you that we still don’t understand the climate emergency the planet is in… You just put your hands down. So I’m here to tell you that unlike you, my generation won’t give up without a fight,” she said.
The Planet Is Heating Up
The urgency of the global warming problem was stressed by several international organizations at once before the high gathering.
Meteorologists confirmed that 2020 was one of the three warmest years on record, with temperatures already 1.2°C above pre-industrial levels of 1850-1900.
“All of the key climate indicators presented in this report show unabated and continuing climate change, the increasing frequency and intensification of extreme events, and the severe losses and damages affecting people, society and the economy,” Petteri Taalas, secretary-general of the World Meteorological Organization, said at the study launch.
The changes to the planet caused by warming are only adding fuel to the fire. Widespread fires cause emissions and reduce the area of forests. Melting Arctic sea ice raises temperatures and thawing permafrost releases methane into the atmosphere.
In 2020, the minimum extent of Arctic sea ice after summer melting shrank to less than 4 million square kilometers for only the second time in recorded history, according to the report. Sea ice retreat in the summer of 2020 in the Laptev Sea was the earliest in the history of satellite observations. And Greenland’s ice sheet has shrunk to an almost minimal size due to iceberg calving.
“Since the mid-1980s, surface air temperatures in the Arctic have risen at least twice as fast as the global average. This has potentially serious consequences not only for Arctic ecosystems but also for the global climate,” meteorologists warned.
2020 was in the top three hottest years, even in a global lockdown and pandemic: the economy collapsed, business activity, transportation, and energy consumption plummeted. And this is despite the fact that 2020 was the year of the La Niña phenomenon – lower temperatures in the Pacific Ocean.
As scientists had warned, the localized cooling caused by La Niña did not break the overall trend, as winds only temporarily drove heat from the ocean surface into the abyss and lowered surface temperatures, but did not change the total amount of energy that determines the planet’s climate.
“In 2019 and 2020, concentrations of major greenhouse gases continued to rise… The economic downturn caused a temporary reduction in new greenhouse gas emissions, but it had no noticeable effect on atmospheric concentrations,” meteorologists said in the report.
And in 2021, concentrations of gases that scientists unanimously cite as the cause of global warming will continue to rise.
Emissions Are Back
Humanity will only add to the planet’s problems. With the economy recovering from quarantine, industry and transportation have begun smoking the skies with the same zeal, the International Energy Agency (IEA), an organization whose estimates are relied on by wealthy fossil fuel consuming nations when forecasting global energy demand, warned Tuesday.
“Many developed countries are accelerating vaccinations and subsidizing extensively their way out of the coronary crisis, which promises a rapid economic recovery and a recovery in energy demand in 2021,” the report said. Fossil fuels will account for a large share of this increase.
For example, demand for coal, IEA estimates, will grow 60 percent faster than the growth in energy supplies from all renewable sources.
“Largely because of this, greenhouse gas emissions will increase by 5%, negating the 80% reduction in 2020. As a result, emissions will almost return to previous levels and will be only 1.2% lower than in 2019,” the IEA predicts, noting that the estimates are very rough because the pandemic is not yet set in stone.
The main increase in demand for coal is provided by Asian countries, especially China. They coped with the virus faster than others and are recovering faster than the rest of the world’s economies. In addition, developing countries do not shy away from coal, because poverty reduction and conquering the world market is for them an understandable priority over ecology.
Therefore, the developed economies, united in the club of rich countries of the OECD, should take the lead in doing away with coal, said UN Secretary-General Guterres. “The OECD states should completely abandon coal by 2030, and all others by 2040. And stop building coal-fired power plants,” he said.