Carbon emissions fell drastically during 2020 as COVID-19 restrictions forced many to stay home and cut back on highly polluting transportation methods. The closing of office buildings around the world also played a key role in reducing emissions. Still, as cases dropped around the world and countries began to reopen, data shows a rebounding uptick in carbon emissions at the end of 2020 – a trend that could continue as the vaccine makes reopening around the world easier.
In data collected by the International Energy Agency, the last month of 2020 saw the first percentage increase in carbon emissions compared to 2019 with a 2.1 percent rise. Prior to December, carbon emissions had been steadily down from 2019 levels – in large part due to the pandemic – but had been creeping back up as global economies restarted and got a grip on the virus.
The enormous carbon emissions drop in March and April of last year was one of the largest recorded in recent history.