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Climate crisis: CO2 hits new record despite Covid-19 lockdowns

(The Guardian, 23 Nov 2020) Drop in emissions this year is a ‘tiny blip’ in buildup of greenhouse gases, UN agency says.

Climate-heating gases have reached record levels in the atmosphere despite the global lockdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the UN’s World Meteorological Organization has said.

There is estimated to have been a cut in emissions of between 4.2% and 7.5% in 2020 due to the shutdown of travel and other activities. But the WMO said this was a “tiny blip” in the continuous buildup of greenhouse gases in the air caused by human activities, and less than the natural variation seen year to year.

The WMO report said the monthly average CO2 for September at the benchmark station of Mauna Loa in Hawaii was 411.3ppm, up from 408.5ppm in September 2019. The same was seen at Cape Grim in Tasmania, Australia, with a rise to 410.8ppm from 408.6ppm in 2019.

It said there had been a “growth spurt” in the average CO2 level for the whole of 2019, rising by more than the average rate over the last decade. The data shows action to cut emissions is currently far from what is needed to avoid the worst impacts of the climate emergency.

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The Guardian, 23 Nov 2020: Climate crisis: CO2 hits new record despite Covid-19 lockdowns