Results of a new study performed by international scientists present information explaining why the skies have become clearer since the pandemic. Apparently, we were correct in linking the clear skies to the drop of global carbon emissions during the COVID-19 lockdowns that took place globally.
A team of internationational scientists at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England. dug deeper; performing analyses that revealed carbon emissions had dropped by as much as 17% on a global scale.
Based on the related report published last May 2020 in the journal for Nature Climate Change, the 17% peak in decline is said to be equivalent to 17 million tonnes of CO2, which happened in April at the the height of the lockdown measures.
The comparison was made against the mean daily levels measured in 2019, which showed levels of CO2 emissions dropping to levels last observed in the year 2006.
However, the scientists do not expect the drop to continue at the same levels, as countries the world over have started reopening economies, whilst resuming activities pinpointed as major factors that triggered the huge decline.
Major Factors Accounted as Main Reasons for the Decline of CO2 Emissions
Inasmuch as huge portions of the global populations were ordered to stay-at-home and/or work-from-home during lockdown periods, the near-absence of surface transport was a major contributing factor to the decline of CO2 emissions.
An analysis of the April 07, 2020 emissions showed that almost half (43%) of the occurring daily decrease was attributable to the very low number of transport vehicles journeying on the Earth’s surface.
Another 43% percent of the daily levels of reduction had accounted as due to the absence of industrial operations, including reductions in the daily use of electrical power.
Although the aviation industry was the first to suspend global operations, travel bans that prevented airline companies from traveling the airways triggered only 3% of the global daily levels of CO2 emissions; or about 10% of the total decrease in emission levels during the health crisis.
Still, a related analysis showed that banking on social responses alone will not yield or sustain the same effect once economies reopen. Not unless provided with support that will increase the well-being of populations, including infrastructure support. After all, the greater target is to attain net zero emissions in the future.
Countries Where High Levels of Decrease were Noted
The scientific analyses estimated that a total of 1048 million tonnes of CO2 (MiCO2) reduction was achieved by the end of April. China, which was the first to order lockdowns, but also the first to lift the orders, achieved a decrease of 242 MtCO2. The U.S. which went into nationwide lockdown in mid-March, ranked second with 207 MiCO2, followed by Europe’s 123 MiCO2 and India’s 98 MiCO2.
University of East Anglia professor, Corinne Le Quéré remarked that world leaders should consider such changes when formulating plans for economic responses in a post-COVID-19 environment. It has become evident that economic activities greatly impact global plans for reducing CO2 emissions.
The professor cited as examples:
Providing support for walking and cycling in suburbs and cities, being cheaper alternatives to building roads; aside from providing a method of preserving social distancing.