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SOURCE: The Guardian

DATE: June 11, 2020

SNIP: Carbon dioxide emissions have rebounded around the world as lockdown conditions have eased, raising fears that annual emissions of greenhouse gases could surge to higher than ever levels after the coronavirus pandemic, unless governments take swift action.

Emissions fell by a quarter when the lockdowns were at their peak, and in early April global daily carbon dioxide emissions were still down by 17% compared with the average figure for 2019, research published last month in the journal Nature Climate Change found.

Now daily carbon emissions are still down on 2019 levels, but by only 5% on average globally, according to an updated study.

“Things have happened very fast,” said Corinne Le Quéré, a professor of climate change at the University of East Anglia and the lead author of the studies. “Very few countries still have stringent confinement. We expected emissions to come back, but that they have done so rapidly is the biggest surprise.

Emissions for the year to date, from 1 January to 11 June, are 8.6% lower than in the same period for 2019, and emissions for the whole of this year are likely to be between 4% and 7% lower than for the whole of last year.

Most of the fall and subsequent rebound has come from road transport. Deserted streets and empty motorways swiftly became the norm during lockdown, as people were ordered to stay at home except for emergencies.

[T]here are fears that as lockdowns around the world ease further in the coming months, carbon from cars could surge to levels higher than before the pandemic as people avoid public transport.

“What we may now see are emissions that exceed pre-pandemic levels, if for instance more people start using private instead of public transport due to health concerns,” said Bob Ward, a policy director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics.