The Two Degree Difference: US greenhouse gas emissions down 10% in 2020

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United States greenhouse gas emissions dropped drastically in 2020 and its mainly because of the pandemic. This drop helped the country meet its climate target; however, emissions are expected to bounce back quickly unless climate action becomes a top priority. 

Firstly, what are greenhouse gas emissions? Well, carbon dioxide, which makes up the majority of greenhouse gasses, acts to trap solar radiation in the atmosphere just like head can be trapped in a greenhouse on a sunny day. 

This causes an overall rise in temperatures, which has been linked to more extreme weather events, ice melt, sea level rise and ocean acidification. 

As businesses shut down and halted operation at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, drastic drops in emissions were seen across the world. This did lead to a drop in emissions of exactly 10.3% for the United States in 2020, an even bigger drop compared to the economic recession in 2009 which resulted in a 6.3% drop in greenhouse gas emissions. 

But will this have any impact on climate change? Not really. The reason is, most signs point to this drop in emissions as a temporary one mainly because of the impacts from the pandemic. 

The main reason this large one-year drop will not have an impact is because carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for centuries and last year’s decline was just a little blip on the graph.

However, there is some good news, since reaching its peak in 2007, US emissions have declined by around 1.3% per year on average according to the US Energy Information Administration.

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