Is the pandemic having an impact on climate change?
In this special edition of Climate Now, we take a look back at 2020, a year dominated by the coronavirus pandemic, and we bring you expert insight on the true state of our climate.
The latest data from the Copernicus Climate Change Service shows that 2020 was the joint warmest year on record, together with 2016. Temperatures around the globe were 0.6 degrees Celsius above the 1981-2010 average.
2020 also concludes what was the hottest decade on record.
The decadal averages from different scientific institutions since 1851 show that temperatures across the planet have clearly been rising for the past 40 years.
However, there were changes in our atmosphere in 2020.
The coronavirus pandemic created lockdowns all across Europe. Streets were suddenly empty, and the air became cleaner. Levels of nitrogen dioxide pollution from vehicles dropped by up to 50% in some places.
Those changes were not long-lasting, however. Richard Engelen from the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service knows why.
"If emissions go down, the concentrations go down, if emissions go back up the concentrations go back up. This is basically because these pollutants have a short lifetime in the atmosphere. They either fall back down to the Earth surface through rainfall for instance, or they react with other gases in the atmosphere, so their lifetime is limited," he explains.
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