Many nations responded to the corona virus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic by restricting travel and other activities during 2020, resulting in temporarily reduced emissions of CO2, other greenhouse gases and ozone and aerosol precursors. We present the initial results from a coordinated Intercomparison, CovidMIP, of Earth system model simulations which assess the impact on climate of these emissions reductions. 12 models performed multiple initial-condition ensembles to produce over 300 simulations spanning both initial condition and model structural uncertainty. We find model consensus on reduced aerosol amounts (particularly over southern and eastern Asia) and associated increases in surface shortwave radiation levels. However, any impact on near-surface temperature or rainfall during 2020–2024 is extremely small and is not detectable in this initial analysis. Regional analyses on a finer scale, and closer attention to extremes (especially linked to changes in atmospheric composition and air quality) are required to test the impact of COVID-19-related emission reductions on near-term climate.