Measuring COVID-19’s climate impact

The pandemic is still damaging the health of the world’s population and economy despite the gathering pace of the vaccine rollout. But COVID-19’s macabre impact extends into the climate. It’s caused a massive decline in global CO2—the first of such magnitude for at least 70 years—and illustrates the challenge economies face reaching the Paris Agreement emissions targets.

We don’t have a precise answer for the exact size of the reduction, but informed estimates suggest a 6% fall of energy-related CO2 emissions in 2020. As the research journal Nature highlighted in May 2020:

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