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 percent 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 percent 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.