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Covid-19 lockdown will have ‘negligible’ impact on climate crisis – study

Covid-19 lockdown will have 'negligible' impact on climate crisis – study

Drop in emissions was a blip, say scientists, and a green recovery is vital to halt global heating

The draconian coronavirus lockdowns across the world have led to sharp drops in carbon emissions, but this will have “negligible” impact on the climate crisis, with global heating cut by just 0.01C by 2030, a study has found.

But the analysis also shows that putting the huge sums of post-Covid-19 government funding into a green recovery and shunning fossil fuels will give the world a good chance of keeping the rise in global temperatures below 1.5C. The scientists said we are now at a “make or break” moment in keeping under the limit – as compared with pre-industrial levels – agreed by the world’s governments to avoid the worst effects of global heating

The research is primarily based on newly available Google and Apple mobility data. This gives near-real-time information on travel and work patterns and therefore gives an idea of the level of emissions. The data covered 123 countries that together are responsible for 99% of fossil fuel emissions. The researchers found that global CO2 emissions dropped by more than 25% in April 2020, and nitrogen oxides (NOx) by 30%

These falls show that rapid changes in people’s behaviour can make big differences to emissions in the short term, but the scientists said such lockdowns are impossible to maintain. Therefore, economy-wide changes are needed for a transformation to a zero-emissions economy, such as greening transport, buildings and industry with renewable energy, hydrogen or by capturing and burying CO2.