Today’s Solutions: December 05, 2021

Yesterday we shared a story about how the COVID-19 outbreak demonstrates society’s ability to act fast in the face of a crisis. If we choose to apply this amazing human capacity for action to the climate crisis, we may already have a bit of a head start with massive emissions drops due to the virus.

Researchers estimate that greenhouse gas emissions in Europe will drop 24.4 percent this year due to the coronavirus lockdown. The estimate by Marcus Ferdinand of Independent Commodity Intelligence Services parallels the estimated drop of 25 percent in China made by the Centre for Research in Energy and Clean Air. 24.4 percent would mean 388.8 million tons less of carbon entering the atmosphere. 

The projection took into account reduced factory operations and lowered demands for commercial aviation. Italy, one of the first European countries to lockdown, did so on March 9th, closing down nearly all automotive and steel factories. Spain and France followed suit in mid-March and experienced subsequent drops in energy demand. 

Power demand alone in Italy was down 10 percent by March 18th, and this is estimated to rise to 16 percent as warmer weather prompts residents to stop using their heaters. 

Due to lockdowns and travel restrictions, airline traffic has decreased significantly. Lufthansa Group is only operating 5 percent of its originally scheduled flights at the moment. 

Although these reductions are great news for the environment, they come at the cost of damaging economic effects. Ferdinand stresses that these estimates are preliminary and, while emissions are actively falling, the actual yearly drop remains to be seen. Hopefully, governments can look to these emission drops as a great starting place for rebuilding a post-coronavirus economy that promotes the well-being of citizens and the planet we live on. 

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