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article imageMajor drop in carbon emissions reported during COVID-19

By Tim Sandle     May 28, 2020 in Environment
One indication of the extent of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a 17 percent drop in global carbon emissions worldwide. The fall in pollution levels will please many in the environmental movement.
While the global lockdown to minimize the spread of the novel coronavirus has triggered an 'extreme' fall in daily carbon emissions, as measured by new data from the University of East Anglia (U.K.), the general model indicates that the effect is unlikely to last once economic activity builds up to something close to normal.
In addition to daily emissions dropping by 17 percent, this is equivalent to around 17 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. This figure relates to the peak of the lockdown during April 2020 (with April 7 being the lowest recorded level of the year to date); since then levels have risen slightly although the continue to remain well below the mean daily levels of 2019. To put the current levels of carbon emissions into perspective, they are broadly equivalent to the levels observed back in 2006. Moreover, emissions of carbon dioxide were rising by about 1 percent per year over the previous decade.
In terms of what has contributed to this decline, emissions from car and lorry journeys, this accounts for 43 percent of the measured decrease. Furthermore, a fall in emissions from industry accounts for a further 43 percent decrease. The contribution of aviation, despite very few aircraft flying, only accounts for 3 percent of global emissions, signalling that the world's cars are bigger contributors to pollution than aircraft (albeit with far more cars on the roads compared with aircraft in the skies).
As noted by lead researcher, Professor Corinne Le Quéré: "Population confinement has led to drastic changes in energy use and carbon dioxide emissions. These extreme decreases are likely to be temporary though, as they do not reflect structural changes in the economic, transport, or energy systems."
In other words, levels are set to rise again with a restoration of economic normalcy, unless new inter-governmental measures are enacted.
The research has been published in the journal Nature Climate Change, with the peer-reviewed research paper titled "Temporary reduction in daily global CO2 emissions during the COVID-19 forced confinement".
More about Covid19, coronavirus, Carbon emissions, Pollution
 
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