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Water vapor from the cooling towers of a power plant in Brandenburg, Germany, in November 2020. Photo: Patrick Pleul/picture alliance via Getty Images

Global carbon dioxide emissions fell by an estimated 7% in 2020, according to a study by the Global Carbon Project published in the journal Earth System Science Data on Thursday.

Why it matters: It's likely the largest fall in carbon emission ever recorded and is largely the result of the coronavirus pandemic keeping people at home.

By the numbers: The report estimates that the world will have emitted 37 billion U.S. tons (34 billion metric tons) of carbon dioxide this year, down from 40.1 billion U.S. tons (36.4 billion metric tons) in 2019.

  • Emissions dropped 12% in the U.S.; 11% in Europe; 9% in India and 1.7% in China.

What they're saying: "The restrictions implemented in response to COVID-19 led to dramatic and unprecedented changes in society, and this caused large changes in CO2 emissions. All countries had significant deviations from their previous emission trends," authors of the study wrote.

Yes, but: Emissions are expected to tick back up after the pandemic as people resume daily commutes and travel.

  • An analysis from the firm Energy Innovation published this May found that the steep U.S. greenhouse gas emissions decline stemming from the pandemic will have little effect on long-term trends under current policies.

Go deeper

Amy Harder, author of Generate
Jan 21, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Big business backs key climate change regulations

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Two of Washington’s biggest lobbying groups say they support the Biden administration’s plan to regulate methane emissions from oil and gas wells.

Why it matters: The shift, instigated by the Chamber of Commerce and American Petroleum Institute, is one of the most concrete signs of how corporations are beginning to support action on climate change in the face of pressure from investors, politicians and the public.

Kaine, Collins' censure resolution seeks to bar Trump from holding office again

Sen. Tim Kaine (center) and Sen. Susan Collins (right). Photo: Andrew Harnik/Pool via Getty Images

Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) are forging ahead with a draft proposal to censure former President Trump, and are considering introducing the resolution on the Senate floor next week.

Why it matters: Senators are looking for a way to condemn Trump on the record as it becomes increasingly unlikely Democrats will obtain the 17 Republican votes needed to gain a conviction, Axios Alayna Treene writes. "I think it’s important for the Senate's leadership to understand that there are alternatives," Kaine told CNN on Wednesday.

Stark reminder for America's corporate leaders

Rosalind "Roz" Brewer is about to become only the second Black woman to permanently lead a Fortune 500 company. She starts as Walgreens CEO on March 15.

Why it matters: It's a stark reminder of how far corporate America's top decision-makers have to go during an unprecedented push by politicians, employees and even a stock exchange to diversify their top ranks.