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Global decrease in carbon dioxide emissions by major event 1945-2020

In recent decades, measurements of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions have indicated significant decreases as a result of major events taking place around the world. The global recession of 1983 represented a fall of around one billion metric tons of carbon dioxide globally over four years. The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis of 2020 is forecast to represent a record decrease of global CO2 emissions at nearly 2.5 billion metric tons, mainly due to the implemented restrictions around the world on traveling, work and industrial activities.

Decrease in carbon dioxide emissions worldwide between 1945 and 2020, by major historical event

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Release date

April 2020



Survey time period

1945 to 2020

Supplementary notes

* Emissions reduced over 2 years in the 1970s recession. Emissions reduced over 4 years in the early 1980s recession. ** Projected five percent fall in 2020 based on current restrictions on travel, work and industry.

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