Carbon Emissions Fall by the Most in History During Coronavirus Pandemic

Daniel Fowler
May 20, 2020

Whether these changes last - and whether they'll make a difference in slowing climate change - depends on what the world does when the pandemic ends.

"Population confinement has led to drastic changes in energy use and Carbon dioxide emissions", said Corinne Le Quéré, lead author of the study, in a press release.

But there are warning the extreme reduction of greenhouse gas emissions may only be temporary.

The estimated total change in emissions from the pandemic amounts to 1048 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (MtCO2) until the end of April - the total change in the United Kingdom for January-April 2020 is an estimated 18 MtCO2.

Tech companies such as Apple provided data.

Between July 2018 and June 2019, the council generated 11,033 tCO2e, with the main contributors being fuel and natural gas (35.6 per cent), electricity (30.8 per cent) and biosolids to vermi-composting (22.2 per cent).

The study examines activity across 69 countries, including Australia, that capturies 97 per cent of global emissions, and compares emissions for the first four months of 2020 to the corresponding period in 2019.

As per the report, countries in full lockdown are seeing an average decline of 25 per cent in energy demand per week, while in those with a partial lockdown, the fall in energy demand is about 18 per cent per week. Canada's fell 20 per cent.

Co-author Corinne Le Quere says that's because Canada brought in mobility restrictions later and which were less-strict than other countries. "Canada has a lot of its emissions that come from power".

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They found that countries under the most severe stay-at-home orders, which they defined as "mandatory national lockdowns that require household confinement of all but key workers", experienced a 50 percent daily decrease in surface transport (like trips in cars) and a 75 percent daily decrease in air travel.

The study, by a group of scientists from institutions in Europe, the United States and Australia, analysed 69 countries that account for 97 percent of Carbon dioxide global emissions, using data from daily electricity use and mobility tracking services. Good news? For sure.

The emissions from higher energy use as people began working from home did little to offset the drop in emissions from other sectors.

The intent of the accord is for the city to work together and share the load in addressing the challenges of climate change, especially those posed by transport and energy use. The dip is five times the decline in emissions in 2009, when the Great Recession choked the world's economy, and double what it was in 1992, after the fall of the Soviet Union.

What the study shows, Jackson said, are the limits of what can be achieved by individuals.

Senator Marc Pacheco, the longest-serving member of the state Senate, suggested the COVID-19 pandemic should be seen as an opportunity, not an obstacle to moving forward with the Transportation Climate Initiative, which until the COVID-19 outbreak had been had been a centerpiece of the policy agenda on Beacon Hill. "Consumers don't control the electric grid".

"The extent to which world leaders consider the net-zero emissions targets and the imperatives of climate change when planning their economic responses to Covid-19 is likely to influence the pathway of Carbon dioxide emissions for decades to come", the authors noted.

By the same token, said Le Quere, some policies that could be seen as economic stimulants for a post-COVID economy could have the opposite effect.

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