The coronavirus pandemic was diagnosed in late 2019 and became an epidemic on March 11, 2020. Since then, people have drastically changed their routines, and humanity has decreased its environmental footprint.
Global carbon emissions experienced a steady 1% growth over the past decade and were stabilized in 2019 as a result of using more clean energy.
In particular, the reduction was determined at 1048 million tons of CO2 emissions by the end of April 2020. China, United States, Europe and India were the most significant contributors to the reduction.
The current levels correspond to those recorded in 2006. According to estimates, the annual reduction of 2020 compared to 2019 will range between 4% and 7% depending on the duration of the restriction measures across the globe.
The most important sectors that were affected and their percentage contribution to the emission reductions are the following:
- Transportation (43%). The decrease is associated with social distancing, people working from home and those avoiding unnecessary transport.
- Industry and power (43%). The industry section refers to the production of building materials such as concrete, cement and steel and the construction processes whereas the power section includes energy conversion for electricity and heat generation. Both sectors were impacted during the lockdown.
- Aviation (10%). Despite the fact that aviation was highly affected by COVID-19, its impact is relatively small since it is associated with only 3% of the total emissions worldwide.
Other sectors were also affected but, their contribution was balanced with the emissions increase associated with the housing sector (people stayed more time at their residences increasing the amount of the consumed energy).
Corinne Le Quéré, lead author of the study and a Professor of Climate Change Science at the University of East Anglia stated that even if the findings are promising, the reduction will probably not have a great impact on climate change since it will be a temporary condition. In order to take advantage of the situation, radical changes must be implemented when people return to their ordinary lives. “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," Prof. Le Quéré, stated. She also added that the unprecedented conditions that we experience may be an opportunity to change our perspective regarding our carbon emission footprint. "...in cities and suburbs, supporting walking and cycling, and the uptake of electric bikes, is far cheaper and better for wellbeing and air quality than building roads, and it preserves social distancing,” she mentioned.
Click the video below to watch a daily animation of the carbon emissions reduction in 2020.
Source: University of East Anglia