Just because CO₂ lingers in the atmosphere for so long, the total amount of CO₂ in our atmosphere will not go down: the increase will only be a little bit more moderate. “The CO₂ content will continue to rise, but at a slightly slower pace from 0.08 to 0.23 ppm (parts per million) per year. This remains well within the natural variable of 1 ppm per year. So we cannot distinguish the short-term impact of COVID-19 from natural variability, “the WMO concludes.
Provisional data for 2020 indeed does not indicate a major decrease (in the increase). Over the past ten years, this has averaged about 2.5 ppm per year. Figures for the reference station of Mauna Loa on Hawaii currently indicate an increase of 2.75 points (September of this year compared to September last year). At Cape Grim in Tasmania it would be 2.22. But we still have to wait for a final result, as that requires a lot of calculations based on the annual data.
To make a difference, the decrease in CO daling emissions will have to be structural and more drastic. Several major industrial players such as Europe, the US, Japan, South Korea and China have already indicated that they want to become carbon neutral by 2050 (or 2060 for China), thus moving towards net zero emissions.
A structural reduction can then have an effect over the years. WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas uses a term that we still know from the corona pandemic: “Flatten the curvebut over a long period of time, that’s what we have to do. This drop in emissions is just a small nod on the long-term chart. ”