Saturday, 06 June, 2020


Coronavirus: Global carbon emissions dipped by 17% because of lockdown, reveals study

Coronavirus Global carbon emissions dipped by 17% because of lockdown reveals study Coronavirus lockdown cut energy-related CO2 emissions 17%, study finds
Kristine Garrett | 21 May, 2020, 15:25

A return to increased levels of air pollution has already begun to be observed in some parts of China, as the country begins to lift restrictions imposed due to Covid-19.

Emissions from surface transport such as vehicle journeys account for nearly half (43%) of the decrease in global emissions during peak confinement on 7 April, according to the study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change. "To put that figure in context, daily emissions declined on average between January to April by 8.6 percent again compared to the same period past year".

The study, which was published this afternoon in the journal Nature Climate Change, calculates that daily emissions fell by 17 million tonnes of carbon dioxide during the peak of the confinement measures in early April when compared to mean daily levels seen in 2019.

Surface transportation including cars, buses, and trucks accounted for 43% of the total decrease. Emissions from industry and from power together account for an equal portion (43 percent) of the fall in daily emissions.

"Decreases in emissions in 2020 were largest in China where industry and communities first locked down, followed by the US, Europe, and then India", CSIRO researcher and report co-author Dr Josep Canadell, said.

The worldwide team of scientists calculated that although the pollution levels are heading back up, the world could be on the course of recording a 4% to 7% drop in emissions by the end of 2020.

The study, carried out by Global Carbon Project, looked at 450 databases showing daily energy use and introduced a measurement scale for pandemic-related societal "confinement" in its estimates.

"These extreme decreases are likely to be temporary though, as they do not reflect structural changes in the economic, transport, or energy systems".

The extent to which world leaders consider climate change when planning their economic responses post COVID-19 will influence the global Carbon dioxide emissions paths for decades to come, the author said. If pre-pandemic conditions of mobility and economic activity return by mid-June, the overall decline would be around four per cent globally, the paper calculated.

The team analyzed government policies on confinement for 69 major carbon-emitting countries.

The paper details how the restrictions have seen daily global greenhouse gas emissions fall by as as much as 17 per cent in April, compared to the same time a year ago.

However, the "extreme" reduction in emissions is "likely to be temporary", said Corinne Le Quere, Professor of Climate Change Science at the University of East Anglia.

This is still shy of the 7.6-percent yearly reduction called for the by United Nations, which if achieved through to 2030 may limit global warming to 1.5 °C (2.7 °F) over pre-industrial levels.

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