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Dropped emissions during COVID-19 lockdown will do ‘nothing’ for climate change

Dropped emissions during COVID-19 lockdown will do 'nothing' for climate change

Unless the world gets serious about reducing fossil fuels.

While greenhouse gas emissions plummeted as the world locked down in response to the coronavirus pandemic, such dips will do "nothing" to slow climate change unless society moves away from fossil fuels, researchers have found.

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, a pandemic, which it remains today. To slow the spread of the virus, countries around the world began implementing lockdown measures that limited travel and closed down factories and businesses. In turn, Earth-orbiting satellites saw a dramatic decrease in greenhouse gas emissions.

However, according to an international study led by the University of Leeds, unless large-scale, structural interventions — like a significant switch away from fossil fuels — are implemented, these changes will not affect Earth's climate. In fact, the researchers found, even if lockdown measures continue in some fashion around the world until the end of 2021, more than a year and half total, global temperatures will only be roughly 0.018 degrees Fahrenheit (0.01 degrees Celsius) lower than expected by 2030.

"Lockdown showed that we can change and change fast, but it also showed the limits of behavior change," Piers Forster, study co-author and director of the Priestley International Center for Climate at Britain's University of Leeds, told AFP.
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