Coronavirus Leads To Significant Decrease In CO2 Emissions
There's at least some saving grace from this pandemic, but it's not enough.
After six months of the Coronavirus (COVID-19 coronavirus (SARS-CoV2)) pandemic, things are settling down a little. There’s no doubt that the loss of life is huge until now, but there is some saving grace. And that is that CO2 emissions have reduced significantly since the pandemic started. Moreover, they are expected to reduce further by the end of 2020.
How much CO2 has reduced because of Coronavirus?
According to previous analysis by Carbon Brief, CO2 emissions reduced by 25% in China after the lockdown in January. However, as the Coronavirus spread, more regions imposed strict lockdown. These include the US, Europe, India and South Asia, and others.
Because of this, recent research has shown an even greater reduction in CO2 emissions. Estimates have put the reduction to almost 2000m tonnes of CO2 by the end of the year. That is around 5.5% of the total CO2 emissions of 2020, and more than any economic crises or war in modern human history. It really shows that the Coronavirus pandemic is unlike anything we have ever seen.
It’s not enough
As impressive as that sounds, it’s not enough. For the goals of the Paris Agreement to be achieved, CO2 emissions need to fall by at least 7.6% every year, or almost 2800m tonnes of CO2 every year. And not just for this year, this trend has to continue for the next decade. Only then will limit global temperature 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.
Moreover, the International Energy Agency has estimated that CO2 emissions will fall down by around 8% because of the Coronavirus pandemic. That puts the previous estimates up in doubts as well. The severity of this crisis grows further, but it can all be gone in no time if we don’t get our act together.
All this CO2 emission reduction can go to waste
As encouraging as an 8% reduction sounds, it is temporary. This is because as soon as the COVID-19 crisis is over, every single country around the world will want to restart the economy.
In a bid for quicker economic growth after Coronavirus, it is unlikely that countries will gather around and honor the Paris Agreement. In fact, most of the people around the world have even forgotten about climate change. That’s how much attention the virus has taken away from Global Warming. Despite the virus, the tap that fills our environment with CO2 still exists. It is just temporarily blocked, as this diagram shows:
Even if there is a slight decrease in global fossil CO₂ emissions in 2020, the atmospheric concentration of CO₂ will continue to rise.
— Glen Peters (@Peters_Glen) March 16, 2020