GENEVA (REUTERS) - The coronavirus pandemic is expected to drive carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions down 6 per cent this year, the head of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Wednesday (April 22), in what would be the biggest yearly drop since World War Two.
"This crisis has had an impact on the emissions of greenhouse gases," WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas told a virtual briefing in Geneva.
"We estimate that there is going to be a 6 per cent drop in carbon emissions this year because of the lack of emissions from transportation and industrial energy production."
However, the drop will not be enough to stop climate change, the UN agency said, urging governments to integrate climate action into recovery plans.
The WMO warned that past economic recoveries had been associated with even higher emissions growth than before the crises.
"Covid-19 may result in a temporary reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, but it is not a substitute for sustained climate action," the Geneva-based agency said in a statement released on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in 1970.
"We need to show the same determination and unity against climate change as against Covid-19," Mr Taalas added.
The statement urged governments to consider stimulus packages that helped the transition to a green economy, adding to similar calls from some governments.
In a sombre reminder of the changes to the planet since 1970, the WMO said carbon dioxide levels were up 26 per cent since then and the global temperature was 0.86 degrees Celsius higher on average.
The WMO also published on Wednesday the final version of its report on the Global Climate, which confirmed a preliminary finding that 2015-2019 was the warmest five-year period on record, with the global average temperature having increased by 1.1 degree Celsius since the pre-industrial period.