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Greenhouse Gas Emissions Fell as Global Temperature Rose in 2020


By Greg Zimmerman Green
globe with mask

In 2020, every aspect of normal life was massively disrupted. That included demand for fossil fuels. Year-over-year U.S. greenhouse emissions dropped 10.3 percent in 2020, according to a report by Rhodium Group. That’s the largest single-year drop in emissions since the Second World War. It’s also the first in 30 years emissions fell below 1990 levels. Global emissions fell about 7 percent, according to New Scientist. All that’s the good news.

The emissions reduction is mostly attributed to the coronavirus pandemic, as travel was dramatically reduced and busy downtown high-rises and sprawling suburban corporate campuses stood mostly vacant. As well, the emissions drop came with “with an enormous toll of significant economic damage and human suffering,” according to Rhodium Group. And finally, most experts believe the emissions drop is temporary. They expect emissions to bounce back in 2021 to “normal” levels, as vaccine distribution increases and life slowly returns to normal. 

The bad news regarding climate change is that, even with the significant drop in both US and global emissions, 2020 was still the hottest year on record, according NASA as reported in the Guardian. Seven of the world’s hottest years have now occurred since 2014. And because we’ll likely return to normal greenhouse gas emissions levels this year, there’s no end in sight for the continuing rise in global temperatures. 

This post was submitted by Greg Zimmerman, editor, Building Operating Management and FacilitiesNet.com

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