Global carbon emissions are projected to decline by a record of nearly 8 percent this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, the International Energy Agency said Thursday.
But the IEA said the world will need to reduce emissions by that percentage each year through 2030 to keep global warming at 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures, the Paris Accords threshold to avoid the worst effects of climate change.
Unfortunately, emissions likely will spike again when the pandemic ends and demand for oil and coal increases. The IEA called upon nations to begin a shift toward renewable energy sources during the pandemic.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has drawn praise for her handling of the coronavirus crisis, has called for economic changes to lower carbon demand.
The United States cut emissions by 9 percent during the first quarter of 2020, the agency said. But the Trump administration has slashed carbon restrictions during the pandemic and boosted the declining oil and coal industries. Trump on Thursday called for a "return to normal," an economy of ever increasing emissions.
Along with economic devastation and a soaring death rate, the coronavirus pandemic has shown the way to significantly reduce emissions and avoid the worst effects of climate change.