Global Carbon Budget 2020 is published and announced

The Global Carbon Project (GCP), which publishes their Global Carbon Budget every year, announced their 2020 findings on 11 December 2020. GCP is one of Future Earth’s Global Research Projects, which conduct research on global environmental issues and earth system sciences. This year’s budget was estimated by an international research team consisting of 86 researchers from 68 institutions from around the world. Six members of this international team participated from Japanese research institutions. 

The research team conducted an integrated analysis using observation and simulation data from many researchers around the world. They calculated anthropogenic CO2 emissions, atmospheric CO2 concentration, and storage of carbon in the land and ocean reservoirs in response to increasing atmospheric CO2 levels, in order to calculate the earth’s CO2 budget for 2019. 

In addition, GCP estimated the global average CO2 budget for the previous 10 years (2010-2019), and a projection for 2020. They expect that CO2 emissions from fossil-fuel consumption in 2020 will decrease 7% compared to 2019 levels. The main reason for this decrease is the large drop in air and road transportation that ensued from restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic. This decrease rate is about the same as the 7.6% decrease that is estimated to be needed yearly between 2020 and 2030 in order to achieve the 1.5 degree target of the Paris Agreement. On the other hand, the 2020 CO2 emissions decrease is not a result of systemic change or introducing policies, so there is a possibility of long-term increase in CO2 emissions from 2021 due to new economic policies responding to the effects of COVID-19. Moreover, global CO2 emissions have decreased last year, but the overall budget is still positive (releasing CO2). Therefore, atmospheric CO2 concentrations continue to increase, and it is projected that the concentration will increase 2.5 ppm* in 2020, reaching 412 ppm – 48% higher in average than pre-industrial levels.  

An online press conference targeting Japanese stakeholders was conducted on the same day as the publication of the Global Carbon Budget on 11 December 2020. At the press conference, researchers from the National Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES) who participated in the research gave an overview of the year’s Global Carbon Budget, and a Q&A session was also conducted.    

* parts per million

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