Climate: an “unprecedented” decrease of CO2 emissions caused by the Covid-19 epidemic

Published by Alexandre G. · Published on 14 October 2020 at 16h52 · Updated on 16 October 2020 at 18h18
A study released this Wednesday October 14, 2020 shows the CO2 emissions dropped in the first 2020 semester with the implementation of restrictions related to the Covid-19 epidemic. An “unprecedented” drop quickly erased by the return of regular levels from July.

Climate almost saved by the coronavirus epidemic. Surprising, is it not? This is what a study carried out by international searchers released this Wednesday October 14, 2020 in Nature Communications says. Lockdown and restrictions implemented in countries hit by the Covid-19 pandemic enabled an “unprecedented” drop of C02 emissions in the first 2020 semester.

Even more surprising: data calculated by scientists says the drop of greenhouse gas emissions has been even stronger than during he 2008 financial crisis or during WWII. To deliver these impressive results, searchers based their study on the data from the electricity production, vehicle traffic in 400 cities around the globe, the number of flights and even the industrial production and consumption. And only one result: this drop in CO2 emissions is the most important one in recent history.

First sector relates to this good news for the planet: transportation. In fact, CO2 emissions caused by transport almost plummeted by half (40%). Behind, we have major drops in sectors such as energy production (22%), or even the industry (17%). More unexpected, emissions caused by residential housing have plunged by 3%; as the governments highly encouraged remote working. According to searchers, it is mostly the mild winter climate that could explain more limited need in heating.

Speaking of temperature, for the record, the Paris agreement on the climate (COP21) sets the goal to reduce the temperature below 2°C. And to cool the planet, greenhouse gas emissions have to be lowered by 7.6% every year until 2030. According to scientists, the thinning caused by the health crisis is definitely not enough on the long term. Still according to their conclusion, “the decrease of human activities cannot be the response”. The co-writer of the study, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber leans towards the solution of a “total overhaul” of the industry and commerce to make it happen. Arguments rather relevant to tip the scale on a world level? Nothing is less certain.

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