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After Historic Fall, Carbon Emissions Are Now Coming Back Fast

In December, global emissions were higher than during the same month in 2019, according to new data from the International Energy Agency. 

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Pandemic restrictions in 2020 caused the largest absolute drop in carbon-dioxide pollution from energy use since World War II. But lockdowns eventually lifted, and as economic activity picked up, emissions resumed very quickly by year's end. In December, worldwide emissions were 2% higher than the same month in 2019, according to new data from the International Energy Agency. 

Emissions from energy fell by about 2 billion metric tons, or 5.8% in 2020, from the prior year. Such a plunge "is without precedent in human history — broadly speaking, this is the equivalent of removing all of the European Union's emissions from the global total," the authors wrote.