- Journal Article
Abstract: The pandemic and efforts to control it are causing sharp reductions in global economic activity and associated fossil energy use, with unknown influence on longer-term efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions under the Paris Climate Agreement. To explore this effect, estimates of economic recession and recovery in near-term months are extended to cover a return to full employment in future years, to be compared with an estimate of growth had COVID-19 not occurred.
On the assumption that the Paris emissions pledges for 2020 will be met in any case, projection of global emissions with and without the pandemic show that, through its growth impact alone, it will yield only a small effect on emissions in 2030 and beyond. Other COVID legacies may include residual influences in patterns of consumption and travel, and the direction of recovery funds to low carbon investments.
Most important, however, will be the effect of the economic shocks on the willingness of nations to meet (or augment) their existing Paris emissions pledges. The main effect of the pandemic on the threat of climate change, therefore, will be not its growth impact but its influence on national commitments to action.