How did global carbon dioxide emissions decline only by 6.4% in 2020 despite major global lockdowns and travel restrictions? What would have to happen for them to drop by say 50%?


Source for the 6.4% number:

In: 5

Top 5 sources of global CO2 emissions – 31% electricity and heat generation, 15% transportation, 12% manufacturing, 11% agriculture, 6% forestry. Only transportation was significantly impacted by lockdowns, and cargo still moved and lots of people still travelled. 6.4% seems about right.

To drop by 50%, we’d have to largely stop using fossil fuels, or at least decease their use substantially.

Most CO2 emissions are from agriculture, construction, manufacturing, and power generation, and none of those things stopped during covid. Some of them, at best, slowed a little bit. Personal transport is a source of emissions, but not a very large one taken by itself, so the fact that (some) people weren’t commuting or traveling had an effect, but not a huge one. Transport in total is only about 15% of global emissions, and most of that is shipping, not people. (You can see the totals [here](

Burning coal for electricity, burning fossil fuels for manufacturing and agriculture all worked without significant drop during the pandemic.