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A sign warning local residents not to burn rubbish in order to reduce pollution in China

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In 2020, covid-19 lockdowns saw global carbon emissions plummet by a record 5.6 per cent, according to one estimate by the Global Carbon Project. But the reprieve is looking increasingly short-lived. A monthly breakdown by the International Energy Agency (IEA) today shows that worldwide emissions in December 2020 were up 2 per cent on December 2019.

China was the only major economy in which emissions grew for 2020 as a whole, up 0.8 per cent on 2019 levels, or 75 …