The dramatic drop in carbon emissions due to coronavirus, quantified

We’ve written quite a bit about the pollution-free skies being seen all around the world, but we have yet to quantify what that means for the environmental record over the course of the year—until now.

According to data commissioned by the Guardian, global carbon emissions from the fossil fuel industry could fall by a record 2.5 billion metric tons this year, a reduction of 5%. In 2020 alone, the coronavirus is expected to cut billions of barrels of oil, trillions of cubic meters of gas and millions of tons of coal from the global energy system. This would lead to the fossil fuel industry’s biggest drop in CO2 emissions on record, in a single year eclipsing the carbon slumps triggered by the largest recessions of the last 50 years combined.

The big question now is what the virus will mean for emissions in the long-term. One analyst put it like this: “If we learn that remote working can work people may begin to question whether we need to take long haul flights to meet people in person. This could alter whether demand for oil ever recovers to the levels we have seen in previous years.”

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The dramatic drop in carbon emissions due to coronavirus, quantified

We’ve written quite a bit about the pollution-free skies being seen all around the world, but we have yet to quantify what that means for the environmental record over the course of the year—until now.

According to data commissioned by the Guardian, global carbon emissions from the fossil fuel industry could fall by a record 2.5 billion metric tons this year, a reduction of 5%. In 2020 alone, the coronavirus is expected to cut billions of barrels of oil, trillions of cubic meters of gas and millions of tons of coal from the global energy system. This would lead to the fossil fuel industry’s biggest drop in CO2 emissions on record, in a single year eclipsing the carbon slumps triggered by the largest recessions of the last 50 years combined.

The big question now is what the virus will mean for emissions in the long-term. One analyst put it like this: “If we learn that remote working can work people may begin to question whether we need to take long haul flights to meet people in person. This could alter whether demand for oil ever recovers to the levels we have seen in previous years.”

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