Daily global CO2 emissions dropped dramatically as COVID-19 kept people home

Tuesday, May 19, 2020 - 10:20 in Earth & Climate

Stay-at-home orders haven’t just curbed the spread of COVID-19. They’ve briefly cleared the air. Daily global carbon dioxide emissions dropped 17 percent, from about 100 million metric tons to about 83 million metric tons, in early April compared with average daily emissions in 2019, researchers report May 19 in Nature Climate Change. Among other changes, the lock-downs grounded planes, reduced traffic and changed peoples’ patterns of energy consumption (SN: 5/14/20). Quantifying the impact of those changes on global CO2 emissions in real time is tricky; most emissions data are reported annually, not day by day or even month by month. So climate scientist Corinne Le Quéré of the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, and colleagues used daily data such as electricity demand, city congestion and readouts from smart meters in homes to estimate emissions for 69 countries. Then, the researchers created a “confinement index” based on the stringency of government-imposed policies in different locations and over time. Sign up for...

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