News Number of the Day Number of the Day Shows Pandemic Stifled CO2 Emissions Our take on the most relevant or interesting figure in personal finance today By Diccon Hyatt Published on December 11, 2020 Photo: The Balance That’s how much carbon dioxide emissions are estimated to decrease in 2020, relative to 2019, according to a new study by international scientists at the Global Carbon Project. The scientists believe the reduction in global carbon dioxide emissions in 2020 can be attributed to a decrease in road transportation, which fell by half at the height of pandemic lockdowns and was still 10% below 2019 levels by December because of COVID-19 restrictions. While the decrease is positive for the environment, it’s still not nearly enough to halt global warming, researchers said. “Although global emissions were not as high as last year, they still amounted to about 39 billion tonnes of CO2, and inevitably led to a further increase in CO2 in the atmosphere,” lead researcher Pierre Friedlingstein of the University of Exeter in Britain said in a statement. “The atmospheric CO2 level, and consequently the world’s climate, will only stabilise when global CO2 emissions are near zero.” Many of the world’s economies have been greatly impacted this year—the International Monetary Fund forecasted that the pandemic could cause a 4.9% contraction in global GDP for the year. But the silver lining may be that travel restrictions seem to have significantly reduced the amount of greenhouse gas humans put into the atmosphere. The last time carbon dioxide emissions fell was in 2009, when they were reduced by just 0.5%. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. University of East Anglia. "COVID Lockdown Causes Record Drop in CO2 Emissions for 2020." International Monetary Fund. "World Economic Outlook Update, June 2020."