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Tags Current Affairs

Largest carbon emission drop in history

Date: 05 January 2021 Tags: Climate Change

Issue

The United Nations and the Global Carbon Project have said that planet-warming carbon pollution was set to fall seven percent in 2020, the largest single-year drop in history.

 

Background

It puts 2020 roughly in line with what the UN says is needed to keep the Paris climate deal goal of limiting warming to 1.5°C within reach.

 

Details

  • The UN in its annual Emissions Gap report said that 2020's dip in emissions would have only a "negligible impact" on long-term warming without a profound shift towards green energy.

  • Global emissions hit a record high in 2019 of 59.1 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent – a whopping 2.6 percent higher than the year before.

  • The countries that pollute the most have prioritised sectors heavily reliant on fossil fuels in their stimulus packages.

  • Fossil fuels today enjoy a significant amount of subsidies from governments, mainly in emerging economies, which creates unfair competition for clean energy sources, distorts the markets, and leads to inefficient use of energy.

  • Subsidies in the form of financial support, tax breaks, and underwriting – remain a significant impediment to greening the economy.

 

Carbon neutrality

  • Year 2020 saw numerous large emitters, including China and Japan, commit to achieving carbon neutrality for the first time.

  • Carbon neutrality refers to achieving net zero carbon dioxide emissions by balancing carbon dioxide emissions with removal (often through carbon offsetting) or simply eliminating carbon dioxide emissions altogether.

  • Shifting towards the use of renewable energy (e.g. hydro, wind, geothermal, and solar power) as well as nuclear power reduces GHG emissions.

  • Making changes to current industrial and agricultural processes to reduce carbon emissions (diet changes to livestock such as cattle can reduce methane production by 40%), Carbon projects and emissions trading are often used to reduce carbon emissions.

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