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National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Special Virtual Panel: Covid-19 and Its Impact on Global Carbon Emissions

Thursday, May 28

Recording >>
Slides [PDF]
Flyer [PDF]
Blog Post [PDF]

About the Panel

The current COVID-19 pandemic has led to an unprecedented economic decline and societal suffering both in the United States and worldwide. The dramatic reductions in economic activity have been shown to impact air quality and are also likely influencing global carbon dioxide emissions. A recent report from the International Energy Agency indicated that with continued closures an 8% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions for 2020 can be expected, the largest annual decrease in emissions since World War II. Carbon dioxide emissions from human activities are superimposed on a ‘noisy’ global carbon cycle where the land and ocean contribute to interannual variations and may overwhelm our ability to measure emission reductions in the atmosphere. This panel aims to provide a balanced perspective on how CO2 emissions may have declined based on economic activity data, what the expected signature of the decline might be based on greenhouse gas observing satellites, and put this in the context of the near-and long-term climate mitigation policies.

About the Speakers

Dr. Lesley Ott is a research meteorologist who leads carbon cycle modeling efforts in NASA’s Global Modeling and Assimilation Office. Dr. Ott’s research focuses on understanding carbon flux on a global scale through the combined use of land, ocean, and atmospheric models and satellite observations. She is particularly interested in reconciling bottom-up and top-down flux estimates, improving the characterization of uncertainty in model-based flux estimates, and using models to define requirements for atmospheric composition observations. Dr. Ott is currently a member of NASA’s Carbon Monitoring System and OCO-2 science teams She was previously a NASA postdoctoral program fellow and assistant state climatologist for the State of Maryland. Dr. Ott received a B.Sc. in physical sciences, an M.Sc. in meteorology, and a Ph.D. in atmospheric and oceanic science, all from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Dr. Glen Peters has been a Senior Researcher at CICERO for twelve years and is now a Research Director. Previously he was a post-doctoral researcher at the Industrial Ecology Programme at NTNU (Trondheim, Norway). While at the University of Newcastle (Australia) he received a University Medal and Deans Medal for undergraduate performance (Mathematics/Physics) and the DH Trollope Medal for his PhD (Environmental Engineering). He has twice received the Environmental Science & Technology Best Policy Paper Award (2007, 2009). Dr Peters is a worldwide authority on socio-economic drivers of emissions. He has performed pioneering work on how international trade intricately connects emission drivers in different countries. Recent work has focused on trends in carbon emissions, socio-economic drivers, and future emission pathways at the global and country level. Other key research areas include emission metrics and the carbon cycle. Dr Peters has been on the Scientific Steering Committee of the Global Carbon Project and is still actively involved in annual updates of the Global Carbon Budget.

Alden Meyer is director of strategy and policy for the Union of Concerned Scientists and the co-director of its Washington, DC, office. He provides general oversight and strategic guidance for the organization’s advocacy on energy, transportation, agriculture, scientific integrity, and arms control issues. Mr. Meyer is also the principal advocate for UCS on national and international policy responses to the threat of global climate change. Mr. Meyer has over 40 years of experience in energy and environmental policy at the state and national levels. He has testified before Congress on global warming and energy issues, and has authored numerous articles on climate change, energy policy, and electric utility and nuclear power issues for environmental and general interest publications. He has also served on several federal advisory panels, including the U.S. Secretary of Energy's advisory board. Mr. Meyer is an expert on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Paris Agreement, and other aspects of international climate policy. He has attended the climate negotiations since they first started in 1991, and his analysis and advocacy have helped shape both U.S. and UN policies.

Dr. Ben Poulter is a Research Scientist in the Biospheric Sciences Laboratory at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. He uses ecosystem models to better understand how climate change and elevated atmospheric CO2 will affect terrestrial carbon cycle stocks and fluxes. Remote sensing data, ground-based observations and experiments play a key role in developing and evaluating ecosystem models, and thus a range of interdisciplinary approaches are used in his research. He was recently a Contributing Author of Working Groups I and III of the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change providing information on contemporary terrestrial CO2 and CH4 fluxes from land cover change and wetlands, respectively.


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