- Around the world, carbon footprint decreased by 17 million tonnes of CO2 during the lockdown peak in April.
- Reduction in vehicular emissions accounted for almost half of the drop in carbon footprint.
- The most significant impact could be seen in China with a decrease of 242 MtCO2
THD NewsDesk, US: The latest study co-authored by Stanford University professor Rob Jackson COVID-19 indicates the positive effect of global lockdown on the world’s average carbon emissions footprint. The course records a 17% (or 17 million tonnes) drop in average carbon emissions in April this year. The tremendous decrease, comparable to the levels of 2006, occurred when the lockdown measures were at their most significant height.
Professor Jackson, who also happens to be the Chair of the Global Carbon Project, 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.”
The research led by professor Corinne Le Quéré surveyed the physical distancing policies of 69 countries. These countries were chosen on the basis that they contributed to 97% of global carbon emissions.
Professor at the University of East Anglia, Quéré 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”.
As a part of the research, data was collected on economic activities that indicated the slowdown in economic growth. Further, the data was applied to deduce the estimated reduction in fossil CO2 emissions daily from January to April 2020 in these countries. The study showed:
- The carbon footprint of the regions contributing to 89% of global emissions witnessed a decline during the lockdown.
- Reduction in vehicular emissions resulted in almost half (43 percent) of the decrease in global emissions during peak confinement on April 7. Emissions from industry and power together also contributed to a chunk of the decline. The increase in people working from home did not cause many effects.
- In individual countries, emissions decreased by 26 percent on average at the peak of social distancing.
- The decrease in pandemic emissions amounts to 1048 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (MtCO2) until the end of April. The most considerable impact China was seen in China, which constituted 242 MtCO2 of the total decline, followed by the US (207 MtCO2), Europe (123 MtCO2), and India (98 MtCO2).
- The impact of confinement on 2020 annual emissions is estimated to be around 4%-7% compared to 2019.
This striking plunge in carbon footprint matches the annual goal of nations required to accomplish the UN Paris Agreement’s climate objectives. However, the impact is expected to dilute once the lockdown opens up. This possibility has forced the authors to caution that this environmental recovery must not be followed by delayed green deals or eroding emissions standards. More importantly, the analysis reflects that net-zero emissions would be tough to achieve in the absence of measures about enhancement in well-being and supporting infrastructure. International organizations and governments must realize the necessity for genuine, sustained measures for maintaining these levels even when the economic activities resume post lockdown.