Lockdowns Led to Historic Drops in Our CO2 Emissions

The year 2020 has proved disastrous worldwide for a number of reasons owing largely to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Yet there has been a silver lining in all the months-long shutdowns aimed at containing the spread of the novel coronavirus from Wuhan: a significant drop in carbon emissions.

During the first six months of the year, say scientists, we emitted 8.8% less carbon dioxide globally than during the same period last year in what amounted to a total decrease of 1,551 million tons.

Not even during the financial crisis of 2008 or the oil crisis of the 1979 was there such a precipitous drop in CO2 emissions, according to the authors of a new study. “The magnitude of this decrease is larger than during previous economic downturns or World War II,” the researchers explain.

The scientists examined daily figures compiled by the Carbon Monitor research initiative to see how emissions decreases corresponded to lockdown measures in each country around the planet. They perused hourly datasets of electricity power production in 31 countries, daily vehicle traffic in more than 400 cities worldwide, daily global passenger flights, monthly production data for industry in 62 countries as well as fuel consumption data for building emissions in more than 200 countries.

They found that there was an especially large drop in CO2 emissions from transportation as citywide lockdowns and severe travel restrictions took effect. Read more…

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