In numbers: Earth Day, The Paris Agreement and COP26

By Asitha Jayawardena

Today, five days have passed the Earth Day 2021 as well as Joe Biden’s Leaders Summit on Climate. Now the Paris agreement 2015 is on the focus. The next stop is COP26, scheduled to be held in Glasgow in November 2021.


The year the first Earth Day was held on 22 April. The oil spill on the coast of Santa Barbara, California, was the reason for this.

328 ppm

The concentration of carbon dioxide in parts per million (ppm) in the atmosphere when Earth Day began.


The year of The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also known as the ‘Earth Summit’, at Rio de Janeiro from June 3-14 in 1992. It is the birthplace of The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).


The year of the Paris Agreement was held in Le Bourget, France on 12 December.


The number of countries that signed the Paris Agreement. It became effective on 4 November 2016. In a 5-year cycle, 2020 was the year that the countries should submit Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) bot the summit was postponed due to Covid-19 outbreak. It will be held in November 2021 in Glasgow.

2 degree Celsius

2 degree Celsius is the limit to global temperature rise, compared with pre-industrial levels (1850-1900).

1.5 degree Celsius

1.5 degree Celsius is the ‘preferably better’ limit to global temperature rise, compared with pre-industrial levels.

1.32 degree Celsius

The amount of warming as the rise of the global average temperature above pre-industrial levels. This temperature can be mitigated by processes such as renewable energy, pause on methane pollution, carbon removal technologies and ending deforestation.

1.75 degree Celsius

A rough idea of the goal of the 2015 Paris Agreement, which states that the rise in the global temperature should be maintained ‘well below’ 2 degrees Celsius. This is an upper limit of about 450 ppm carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. However, 350 ppm should de the goal, according to ambitious activists.

13 per cent

Fraction of annual global greenhouse gas emissions that are covered by carbon pricing schemes.

50 billion

Metric tonnes of annual greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon dioxide, methane and other gases. Net-zero can push this number downwards, phasing out emissions from power plants and vehicles, for example.

418 ppm

The monthly global average of carbon dioxide in parts per million (ppm) now, a rise of 90 ppm from 328 ppm in 1970.


UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 78% by 2035 as the host country of the COP26 in Glasgow this year.


US President Joe Biden is to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50% of 2005 levels by 2030. He announced the target at the Leaders Summit on Climate on Earth Day 2021 on April 22, rallying round 40 leaders virtually.


The year that the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) to be held by the UK (in partnership with Italy) in Glasgow on 1–12 November 2021. See you (virtually) there!


Carbon in the sky and climate change: Earth Day by the numbers

The Paris Agreement

The COP26



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