September 7, 2020

COVID-19 and Climate Change: The name’s ‘Brick’

Despite the rumours, COVID-19 enforced restrictions have not been a ‘temporary reprieve’ or ‘silver lining’ for climate change.

So what has been the climate impact of the pandemic? To help explain why a temporary dent in CO₂ emissions this year does not put a dent in global warming, I’m introducing a new climate character: the name’s ‘Brick’.

COVID-19 and climate change


If you’d like to use this graphic, or any of its contents, please drop me a note on Twitter or send me an email — I can provide it in various formats.

I’d like to thank climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe for unwittingly introducing me to Brick, and for kindly offering feedback on an early version.

Any errors contained herein are mine.


European Commission, ‘Supporting climate action through the EU budget’, 2020

Global Carbon Project, Global Carbon Budget 2019

Hepburn et al, Will COVID-19 fiscal recovery packages accelerate or retard progress on climate change?, Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 2020

IEA, ‘Batteries and hydrogen technology: keys for a clean energy future’, 2020

IEA, Sustainable Recovery: World Energy Outlook Special Report, 2020

IMF, World Economic Outlook: The Great Lockdown, 2020

IPCC, Special Report on 1.5°C, 2018

Le Quéré et al, Temporary reduction in daily global CO2 emissions during the COVID-19 forced confinement, Nature Climate Change, 2020

Liebreich, ‘Energy Efficiency Key To Covid Recovery’, BloombergNEF, 2020

Our World in Data, CO₂ and Greenhouse Gas Emissions, 2020

Sherwood et al, An assessment of Earth’s climate sensitivity using multiple lines of evidence, Reviews of Geophysics, 2020