“What the carbon emissions numbers show is that emissions (correcting for the drop and recovery from COVID19) have basically flattened now. That’s the good news,” said Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann, who wasn’t part of the report. “The bad news is that’s not enough. We need to start bringing (emissions) down.”

The dramatic drop in carbon dioxide emissions from the pandemic lockdown has pretty much disappeared in a puff of coal-fired smoke, much of it from China, the AP reports, citing a new scientific study.

A group of scientists who track heat-trapping gases that cause climate change said the first nine months of this year put emissions a tad under 2019 levels. They estimate that in 2021 the world will have spewed 36.4 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide, compared to 36.7 billion metric tons two years ago.

At the height of the pandemic last year, emissions were down to 34.8 billion metric tons, so this year’s jump is 4.9%, according to updated calculations by Global Carbon Project.

While most countries went back to pre-pandemic trends, China’s pollution increase was mostly responsible for worldwide figures bouncing back to 2019 levels rather then dropping significantly below them, said study co-author Corinne LeQuere, a climate scientist at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom.

“It’s not the pandemic that will make us turn the corner,” LeQuere said in an interview at the climate talks in Glasgow, where she and colleagues are presenting their results. “It’s the decisions that are being taken this week and next week. That’s what’s going to make us turn the corner. The pandemic is not changing the nature of our economy.”

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