COVID-19 pandemic has not slowed the pace of climate change. Virus-related economic slowdown and lockdowns caused only a temporary downturn in CO2 emissions last year, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said.
"There was some thinking that the COVID lockdowns would have had a positive impact on the atmosphere, which is not the case," WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said.
The United in Science 2021 report, which gathers the latest scientific data and findings related to climate change, said global fossil-fuel CO2 emissions between January and July in the power and industry sectors were already back to the same level or higher than in the same period in 2019, before the pandemic.
Although CO2 emissions from road traffic in 2021 have been below the levels before the pandemic outbreak, concentrations of the major greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming continued to increase, according to the report.
"We are still significantly off-schedule to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said. "Unless there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to 1.5C will be impossible, with catastrophic consequences for people and the planet on which we depend." Guterres said.