An international team of scientists have concluded that world carbon dioxide emission levels fell by a whopping 17 per cent at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has also determined that by the end of this year, the emissions will be around 4 to 7 per cent lower than those of 2019. This is the biggest annual drop in carbon emissions since the second World War!
The study was carried out by Global Carbon Project, which is a collaboration of renowned international scientists that help to produce an annual estimate of carbon dioxide emissions in the world. To reach these results, they analyzed around 450 databases that demonstrated daily energy use across the world.
Unfortunately, the scientists have also concluded that with lockdowns in most nations easing and activity getting back to normal, this drop might only be a “drop in the ocean” with regards to climate change.
For one week in April, India and Europe cut their emissions by a whopping 26 per cent and 27 per cent respectively, while the United States’ carbon dioxide emissions dwindled to one-third. China, notorious for being the nation with the most carbon emissions, cut its carbon levels by 25 per cent.
According to the scientists, such low levels of emissions have not been recorded since over one and a half decades back.
However, the study lead author, Corinne LeQuere, a climate scientist at the University of East Anglia warned that this could be only a “drop in the ocean” if the nations return to their regular carbon emitting levels.
“It’s like you have a bath filled with water and you’re turning off the tap for 10 seconds,” she said.
The good news is that if the world can sustain these carbon emission cuts for a few decades, there is still a chance that we can avoid the Earth by getting warmer by 1 degree Celsius.
The analysis of the components that caused the cuts in carbon emissions was also extremely interesting. The study derived that close to 50 per cent of the reduction in emissions came from less transport pollution caused by vehicles such as cars and trucks whereas reduction in air traffic caused a mere 10 per cent drop in the overall pollution levels.
Can this be the silver lining of the coronavirus pandemic? That it will help make this world a less polluted and a better place to live in? Will we learn our lessons from this lifechanging event?