COVID-19 Pandemic Caused 17% Drop in Global Carbon Emissions

By: | May 22nd, 2020

Image courtesy Wikimedia commons

There is great news amid the coronavirus pandemic; COVID-19 has caused global carbon emissions to drop beyond all expectations.

With major part of world’s population confined to their homes, the carbon emissions of cars and planes have been curbed.

This study was published in the journal Nature Climate Change. It revealed that daily emissions decreased by 17% globally in early April compared to the average daily emissions in 2019.

On an average, daily emissions decreased by about 18.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in comparison to last year. That’s an emissions level last observed in 2006.

Robert Jackson, a co-author of the new study, predicted for 2020 as a whole, “We’ll see global carbon emissions drop at least 4 percent this year and possibly 7 percent or 8 percent,”

“Either way, it will be the biggest one-year drop since WWII, and possibly ever.”

According to the study, at peak confinement, average emissions even fell by 26 percent. Carbon emissions from industry and power accounted for about 43% of this fall in emissions. Decrease in emissions due to surface transport further accounted for another (43%). Aviation industry accounted for decrease in about 3% of global emissions.

Professor Corinne Le Quéré, who led the analysis, said, “Population confinement has led to drastic changes in energy use and CO2 emissions. These extreme decreases are likely to be temporary though, as they do not reflect structural changes in the economic, transport, or energy systems,”

Study co-author Rob Jackson of Stanford University said: “The drop in emissions is substantial but illustrates the challenge of reaching our Paris climate commitments. We need systemic change through green energy and electric cars, not temporary reductions from enforced behavior.”

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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