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Environment & Energy Report

Biggest Fall in Global Emissions Shows the Limits of Individual Action

May 19, 2020, 3:00 PM

Grounded flights, emptied highways and shuttered factories caused global carbon-dioxide emissions to fall to levels not seen since 2006 as stay-at-home orders peaked last month.

On April 7, global CO₂ emissions were 17% lower compared to the same time last year. That’s the conclusion of a new analysis by climate researchers who estimated this year’s CO₂ data across 69 countries, covering 97% of global emissions.

Before the pandemic, scientists had been expecting there to be little or no change in emissions this year. Countries hit their nadir at different times during the coronavirus pandemic, with CO₂ emissions bottoming out at 26% lower than the...

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