Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions Increase in the Spotlight as G-7 Summit Begins

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Foley & Lardner LLPThe G-7 summit will be held June 11-13 in the United Kingdom, and world leaders have a slate of major issues to discuss- economic rebounds, international relations, and of course the pandemic and vaccine availability.

However, climate change and global greenhouse gas emissions are likely to be another central focus of the discussions. Smaller countries are increasing calls for the world’s largest economies to both decrease emissions and financially contribute to smaller economies’ climate change efforts. The pandemic has only heightened the pressure on the world’s largest, and smallest, economies.

During the course of the pandemic, the world experienced a marked decrease in greenhouse gas emissions. These emissions decreases followed lockdowns with reduced global airplane and vehicle travel.  In 2020, the global carbon dioxide emissions fell by 6.4%, with the United States alone experiencing a 13% decline in emissions.  Air travel experienced a 48% emissions decrease in 2020.

Now, as vaccines become more prevalent and the world continues reopening, greenhouse gas emissions have shot back up, in some cases past pre-pandemic levels.  The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached historic peaks in May, the highest levels in 63 years. Signs of these increases started in December 2020 when global emissions surpassed December 2019. In China, total carbon dioxide emissions exceeded pre-pandemic levels by 7%.  The majority of this increase was related to increase coal consumption, which China has vowed to decrease after 2025.

As transportation continues to increase, all eyes will be on whether more efficient vehicles, air travel, and energy consumption can curb the current increase in 2021.  The G-7 summit may prove a testing ground for countries’ focus on these efforts coming out of the pandemic, and set the stage for future accords, regulations, and financing commitment.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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