According to a new estimate by Bloomberg Nef, carbon dioxide emissions in the United States are falling rapidly this year to levels never seen since 1983.The earth's heating pollution is expected to fall by 9.2% from last year, the private research institute said it would be the biggest drop on record.
The sharp decline is mainly due to the covid-19 pandemic affecting normal business. As many Americans work at home or no longer work, transportation, the most polluted industry in the United States, has seen a record year-on-year decline. The sector also contributes the most to the overall emission reduction of the country. The power sector's emissions are likely to fall by a record this year, according to the estimates of the Bloomberg Nef.
Globally, emissions are expected to fall by up to 7 per cent this year. It would be welcome news if the cuts were deliberate, not the result of the economic and health crisis. According to United Nations scientists, greenhouse gas emissions need to be kept down by more than 7 per cent a year throughout the decade to keep the world at a relatively manageable level. To do so, economies need a rapid shift to clean energy. However, workers can not stay at home forever.
Without a conscious shift to renewable energy, once the epidemic is contained, the world is likely to continue to plunge further into climate catastrophe. After a historic decline in climate pollution this year, BloombergNEF expect year-on-year emissions from the United States to hit new highs in 2021.
Equally worrisome, this year's unprecedented wildfires in the United States have offset some of the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions caused by pandemics. The fires released 184 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent this year, equivalent to what 43 coal-fired power plants could release in a year. These emissions reductions will almost offset the entire electricity industry in 2020. If the fire factor is taken into account, the overall US emission reduction this year may be close to 6.4%.
Much remains to be done in the United States to cut emissions and make them permanent. "Human waste is piling up in the atmosphere, and it won't disappear," Ralph Keeling, a geochemist at the Scripps Institute of oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, told the verge earlier this year. "Carbon dioxide is accumulating to deal with not only our emissions now, but also our emissions in the past century."