By Alejandra Borunda
In May, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere crept up to about 418 parts per million. It was the highest ever recorded in human history and likely higher than at any point in the last three million years.
That record was broken in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, even though the health crisis has driven one of the largest, most dramatic drops in CO2 emissions ever recorded.
During the peak of the global confinements in the first quarter of the year, daily emissions were about 17 percent below last year’s, according to research published this week in Nature Climate Change.
But even such big drops in carbon dioxide emissions will have little impact on overall CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, says Richard Betts—a scientist at the U.K.’s Met Office—and that’s what matters most for climate change.