Why are Greenhouse gases still rising despite industrial lockdown?

The United Nations agency said actions to curb the pandemic's spread had cut many pollutants and greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide.

 

[Al Jazeera File: Mike Hutchings/Reuters]
Carbon dioxide levels reached new highs last year and are forecast to keep growing in 2020, despite COVID-19-related restrictions that forced a global industrial slowdown.

The alarming patterns were published by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), crushing hopes that lockdowns across the globe would have pushed emissions, the main catalyst to climate change, to a record low.

The United Nations agency said actions to curb the pandemic’s spread had cut many pollutants and greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide.

But it also cautioned that the industrial slowdown due to the coronavirus had not curbed concentrations of the greenhouse gases that are confining heat in the atmosphere, rising temperatures, causing sea levels to grow, and driving more extreme weather.

(Shutterstock)

The WMO said the alteration in carbon dioxide concentrations – the result of cumulative past and current emissions – is, in fact, no more significant than the usual year-to-year fluctuations in the carbon cycle and the amount of carbon being soaked up by vegetation and oceans.

It said preliminary estimates indicate a reduction in annual global emissions of between 4.2% and 7.5% – a “tiny blip,” according to the WMO, with no more significant effect on global warming than the expected annual fluctuation.

“An emissions reduction on this scale will not cause atmospheric CO2 to go down. CO2 will continue to increase, though at a slightly reduced pace,” the WMO said.

In a video published on social media, Patricia Espinosa C., the UN’s climate change executive secretary, said, “COVID-19 hasn’t put climate change on hold.

“It is getting worse, and our window of opportunities is closing,” she added.

The annual report published by the Geneva-based agency measures the atmospheric concentration of the main gases – nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide, and methane– are warming Earth and triggering extreme weather events.

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