CO2 emissions strongly decreased during pandemic

Elias Hubbard
May 25, 2020

It found that global emissions could fall by up to 7 per cent this year, depending on ongoing restrictions and social distancing measures during the coronavirus pandemic. It stays in the atmosphere for about a century before dissipating.

Using government policies and activity data from around the world, it is estimated that by the end of April 2020, the rate of toxic gas emissions has decreased by 17% compared to the same period in 2019.

The magazine Nature Climate Change published the study.

"Population confinement has led to drastic changes in energy use and Carbon dioxide emissions", said lead author Corinne Le Quéré at the University of East Anglia.

It is the first definitive study of global carbon output this year and analysed daily CO2 emissions across 69 countries, 50 U.S. states, 30 Chinese provinces, six economic sectors, and three levels of confinement, using data from daily electricity use and mobility tracking services.

For a week in April, the United States cut its carbon dioxide levels by about one-third. In China, the world's biggest polluter, carbon dioxide releases decreased by nearly 25 percent in February.

Lauri Myllyvirta, a Helsinki-based analyst at the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, discussed what impact the lockdown has had on emissions in China and India. We need systemic changes using green energy and electric cars, not temporary reductions resulting from forced behavior,"professor Rob Jackson from Stanford University, head of the Global Carbon Project and co-author of the analysis, said".

Independent experts praised the study, saying it showed how much effort will be needed to stop additional climate change.

Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann put it this way in an email: "Individual behavior alone. won't get us there". He called for "structural change", in how the world deals with carbon dioxide. The largest decrease in emissions occurred in China, followed by the U.S., Europe and India.

Emissions from surface transport, such as vehicle journeys, accounted for nearly half (43%) of the decrease in global emissions during peak confinement on April 7.

The report's writers say pollution levels are already heading back up.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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