Covid-19 brings South Africa’s daily carbon emissions down by 20%

Covid-19 brings South Africa’s daily carbon emissions down by 20%”

The lockdown measures are expected to have a long-term effect that could lead to the biggest annual decrease in emissions since the end of World War II.

The global lockdown that was in place for much of April led to a 17 per cent fall in daily carbon emissions, according to the first peer-reviewed study on the impact of the coronavirus crisis on emissions levels.

In order to quantify the drop in carbon emissions, the study authors examined emissions data from more than 69 countries, including the USA, and 30 Chinese provinces.

Those two sectors saw a 36 percent and 60 percent decrease in emissions, respectively. The research is titled Temporary Reduction in Daily Global CO2 Emissions During the Covid-19 Forced Confinement.

If the global economy recovers to pre-pandemic conditions by mid-June - an unlikely scenario - Carbon dioxide emissions in 2020 are projected to drop only four per cent, Le Quere and her team calculated. On average, daily emissions decreased by 26 percent per country. "To put that figure in context, daily emissions declined on average between January to April by 8.6 percent again compared to the same period past year".

The 17 percent decrease in daily Carbon dioxide emissions is "extreme and probably unseen before", the study authors wrote.

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They found a global 17 percent decrease in emissions in April compared to past year, most likely due to the US, India, and China all being under lockdown at the same time.

But 2020 will buck that trend, regardless of when the world emerges from lockdown.

If pre-pandemic conditions return by mid-June - meaning non-essential businesses reopen and air and vehicle travel resumes at typical levels - annual global carbon emissions will still likely fall by 4 percent. "These extreme decreases are likely to be temporary though, as they do not reflect structural changes in the economic, transport, or energy systems".

But if lockdown restrictions persist throughout the year, the decline will be around seven per cent.

The findings highlight tackling climate change can not be achieved by personal responsibility alone, and that the focus needs to be on governments partaking in meaningful change to their very infostructures, as has been demonstrated, for the required changes to happen.

"These numbers put in perspective both the large growth in global emissions observed over the past 14 years and the size of the challenge we have to limit climate change in line with agreements struck in Paris in 2016 to tackle the threat", the study's authors wrote. "Today, COVID-19 and stimulus funding can catalyze personal mobility and electric vehicles coupled to renewable power", Jackson said.

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