COVID-19’s minimal climate impact highlights need for momentous action

2020 Global Temperature
2020 tied with 2016 for the hottest year on record. (NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio/Lori Perkins/Kathryn Mersmann)

By Liam Bohen-Meissner
Medill Reports

Global carbon dioxide emission dropped 7 percent worldwide due to a decrease in human activity after COVID-19 brought much of the world to a standstill. Despite this, the climate impacts of COVID-19 turned out to be negligible, with 2020 tied with 2016 as the hottest year on record. Global temperatures have risen 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) over the past decades and are expected to meet or exceed the 1.5 degree ceiling set by the Paris Climate Agreement by 2030 without drastic decreases in fossil fuel emissions..

If a global pandemic is not enough to put a dent in climate change, then what hope do we have? Local Illinois climate experts provide their insight on what changes must be made if we are to succeed in this battle with the climate crisis.

Liam Bohen-Meissner is a health and politics reporter at Medill.