According tomedia reports, the impact of the new coronavirus outbreak on people’s work and travel is emerging, with air pollutant and greenhouse gas levels in some cities and regions dropping significantly. In an interview with the BBC, researchers in New York said their preliminary results showed that carbon monoxide in the atmosphere, mainly from cars, had fallen by nearly 50 per cent compared with last year. Emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide have also fallen sharply. However, there are also warnings that air quality alert levels could rise rapidly in the wake of the new coronapneumonia pandemic.
It is not surprising that emissions of various gases related to energy and transporthaveate have also decreased as global economic activity has been rapidly reduced by the new coronavirus pandemic. Scientists say carbon dioxide emissions will peak by May, when the leaves break down, at what could be the lowest level scored since the financial crisis more than a decade ago.
Although there is still some time to go before May, recent data collected in New York suggest that directives restricting unnecessary travel are having a significant impact. Traffic in New York City is estimated to be down 35 percent from a year ago. Researchers at Columbia University say carbon monoxide emissions, mainly from cars and trucks, have fallen by about 50 percent in a matter of days. They also found that carbon dioxide concentrations over New York dropped by 5 to 10 percent, and methane levels fell.
“New York’s carbon monoxide levels have reached very high levels over the past year and a half,” said R?is?n Commane, a professor at Columbia University who oversees air monitoring in New York. “
While some of these findings are noteworthy, they also echo the environmental impacts associated with outbreaks in China and Italy. China’s energy use and emissions have fallen by 25 per cent in the past two weeks, according to an analysis by climate website Carbon Brief. Experts believe this could lead to a drop of about 1 per cent in China’s total carbon emissions this year. Nitrogen dioxide levels also declined in northern China and northern Italy, which was associated with a decrease in car travel and industrial activity. Nitrogen dioxide gas is both a serious air pollutant and a powerful warming chemical.
With the airline industry stagnating and millions of people working from home, greenhouse gas emissions in many countries are likely to follow the same path. While home-based work may increase household heating and electricity use, a reduced commute and a general slowdown in the economy are likely to have an impact on overall emissions.
Satellite images from the European Space Agency show the levels of nitrogen dioxide over Italy from January to April 2019
“I expect the northern hemisphere’s CO2 emissions to increase at their smallest rate since 2009 or earlier in May, ” says Prof Comanne. “
This view has been shared by other industry insiders, who argue that the stagnation in the transport ation will affect carbon dioxide levels throughout the year. “It will depend on how long the new coronavirus pandemic will last and how far the economic slowdown will be, especially in the US.” But I think we’re likely to see something new in global emissions this year,” said Professor Corinne Le Quere of the University of East Anglia in the UK. “
On the other hand, once the outbreak eases, the measures taken by governments to stimulate the economy may also have a significant impact on the scale of carbon emissions and air pollution. Carbon emissions surged by 5 per cent between 2008 and 2009 in the wake of the global financial crisis, as stimulus consumption increased the use of fossil fuels.
In the coming months, governments will have the opportunity to change that outcome. For example, the government could insist that any aid to airlines be linked to stricter reductions in aviation emissions.
“Governments must now be very careful about how to stimulate the economy again, not to lock in fossil fuels again,” says Prof Leguir. None of this is complicated, it can be done right away, just waiting for the stimulus. “
However, some argue that if the new coronavirus pandemic continues for a long time, any stimulus measures are likely to focus on promoting economic growth, regardless of the environmental impact.
“I think the climate issue will definitely be put on hold for the time being, and in this case there is little hope that the stimulus will flow to clean energy,” says Professor Glen Peters of the International Centre for Climate Research. I think it’s very different than the global financial crisis. The only hope may be to learn new ways to work remotely and accept years of low growth to catch up with solar and wind, but these are pretty small. “