Following a disappointing COP25 in Madrid last year, it would be fair to say the prospects did not look good for the next climate change summit in Glasgow in 2020. However, a lot has happened since then.
The annual report by the World Meteorological Organization confirmed the global mean temperature was still stubbornly high at 1.1 ± 0.1 °C above pre-industrial levels.
Another report by the UK Met Office earlier in the year also indicated that a new annual global average temperature record is likely to be reached over the next five years surpassing the current record of 1.16 °C set in 2016.
Add to that the continued loss of the Amazon rainforest, wild fires in California and evidence that the sea ice in Antarctica is melting at a much faster rate than scientists expected. Things could not get much worse, could they? Then a global pandemic (COVID-19) came along which caused us all to collectively hold our breath.
In a COVID-19 world we are using our cars less, taking fewer flights abroad and generally enjoying the best air quality we have had in years. The scientific journal Nature reported that daily global CO2 emissions had decreased by 17% by early April 2020 when compared with the mean 2019 levels.
Will this hiatus last? Well, no it cannot because the economic impact of this pandemic means the wheels of industry will need to turn again in order to avert the worst global recession since the Great Depression.
There are some positives:
COVID-19 is likely to accelerate the shift to greener forms of energy and transport for many industrialized countries.