Global CO2 emissions could drop by 7% in 2020 due to pandemic, study suggests

Global CO2 emissions could drop by as much as 7% in 2020 due to pandemic, а study by a group of scientists from institutions in Europe, the US and Australia shows. It analyzed daily CO2 emissions across 69 countries, 50 US states, 30 Chinese provinces, six economic sectors, and three levels of confinement, using data from daily electricity use and mobility tracking services.

The research was published in the journal Nature Climate Change on Tuesday.

In 2019, the world emitted around 100 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per day by burning fossil fuels and cement production, the study said. In early April 2020, emissions fell to 83 million tonnes per day, a drop of 17%, and some countries' emissions dropped by as much as 26% on average during the peak of the confinement.

If pre-pandemic conditions return by mid-June, then 2020 emissions could decline by four per cent compared with 2019, but if restrictions remain worldwide until the end of the year, then emissions could drop by 7%, the report added. This would be the largest single annual decrease in absolute emissions since the end of World War II.

A UN report last year said emissions needed to drop by 2.7% a year to keep warming well below 2°C, and 7.6% a year to keep below 1.5 °C.

"Population confinement has led to drastic changes in energy use and CO2 emissions," Canadian lead author Corinne Le Quere from the University of East Anglia said. "These extreme decreases are likely to be temporary, however, as they do not reflect structural changes in the economic, transport or energy systems," she added.

China saw the largest drop in emissions in April, followed by the US, Europe and India. In the countries with the strictest lockdown restrictions, emissions from aviation plunged 75% in early April, while emissions from land transport fell by 50% and from power generation by 15%.


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