Picture: 123RF/TOMAS1111
Picture: 123RF/TOMAS1111

London — Global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions fell by 8.8% in the first six months of this year, the biggest drop for a first half-year period, due to the effects of coronavirus-related restrictions, a study showed on Wednesday.

Research published in the journal Nature Communications by a group of scientists from China, France, Japan and the US, said emissions fell by 1,551-million tonnes or 8.8% in the first half of 2020, compared to the same period in 2019.

The 8.8% reduction represents the largest ever fall in emissions over the first half-year, larger than for any economic downturn. The drop was also larger than the annual decrease during World War 2, though mean emissions are much bigger now than at that time.

The scientists used data based on real-time activity and analysed the daily, weekly and seasonal trends of CO2 emissions before and after the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and the economic downturn it triggered.

From about April, governments around the world imposed lockdowns to contain the Covid-19 pandemic which curtailed energy use for industrial production and transport. This resulted in greenhouse gas emissions declining.

Warmer-than-usual weather across much of the northern hemisphere also meant that emissions were somewhat lower than they would have been in the same period of last year.

The study said the fall in daily CO2 emissions was most pronounced in April when the toughest restrictions were in place. Emissions began to recover in late April and May as economic activity resumed in China and parts of Europe.

But falls in transport-related emissions persisted.

“By July 1, the pandemic’s effects on global emissions diminished as lockdown restrictions relaxed and some economic activities restarted, especially in China and several European countries,” the paper said. “However, substantial differences persist between countries, with continuing emission declines in the US where coronavirus cases are still increasing substantially.” 


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