The United in Science 2020 report has been compiled by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) under the direction of the UN Secretary-General to bring together the latest climate science-related updates from a group of key global partner organisations.
This report is the second in a series, and includes input from the Global Carbon Project, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UK Met Office.
According to the report, CO2 emissions in 2020 will fall by an estimated 4 to 7% in 2020 due to COVID-19 confinement policies. The exact decline will depend on the continued trajectory of the pandemic and government responses to address it.
In April 2020, at the height of COVID-related lockdowns, daily global fossil CO2 emissions dropped by an unprecedented 17% compared to the year prior. However, by early June, the emissions had mostly returned to within 5% below 2019 levels.
It notes that though the emissions gap – the difference between what we need to do and what we are actually doing to tackle climate change – is wide, it can still be bridged with urgent and concerted action by all countries and across all sectors.
On the state of the global climate, the report indicates that the average global temperature for 2016-2020 is expected to be the warmest on record, about 1.1°C above 1850-1900 (a reference period for temperature change since pre-industrial times) and 0.24°C warmer than the global average temperature for 2011-2015.
The report also documents how the COVID-19 pandemic has impeded the ability to monitor changes in climate through the global observing system, which in turn has affected the quality of forecasts and other weather, climate and ocean-related services.