The coronavirus-triggered lockdown has led to a steep fall in global carbon emissions by 17 per cent in early April as compared to 2019 levels with India’s emissions dropping by 26 per cent, according to a study. The study marks as one of the most important studies on climate change and emissions this year. Earlier, a study IEA told that global emissions decreased by 8%.

An international study published in the UK-based journal National Climate Change showed that the world experienced a sharp decline in carbon emissions between January and April, compared to average levels in 2019, and could decline anywhere between 4.4 per cent to 8 per cent by the years end. The data was gathered from 69 countries responsible for 97 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.

The study confirmed that the impact of the lockdown on annual emissions in 2020 is likely to lead to the largest single annual decrease in absolute emissions since the end of World War II. It is reported that Carbon emissions in India fell by an estimated 15% in March and might fall by 30% in April (report of April is awaited). Other countries like the UK and the US reduced 30.7 per cent and 31.6 per cent emissions, respectively. In China, the emissions reduced by 23.9 per cent, the study revealed.

Earlier, images by NASA  showed that the main cities in India are recording much lower levels of air pollution. NASA satellite sensors have observed aerosol levels at a 20-year low for this time of the year in the parts of northern India. In nearly all the big Indian cities, drops in NO2 levels are apparent, highlighting the national impact of the lockdown on India’s biggest environmental concern – air pollution.

As per the analysis conducted in the study, daily emissions decreased by 17 per cent or 17 million tonnes of carbon dioxide globally during the peak of the confinement on April 7, dropping to levels that were last observed in 2006. If the lockdowns are lifted fully by June, emissions for the year will fall by four percent. If some restrictions are in place till the end of 2020, emissions will decline by seven percent. It marks the yearly decline needed to meet the Paris Agreement climate targets on emissions.

The study has highlighted that the emissions from land transport accounted for almost half (36 per cent) of the decrease, while power generation accounted for 7 per cent, industry for 19 per cent and aviation sector for 60 per cent. On the other hand, emissions from residential sources, increased by 3%.

The study further suggests that the drop in emissions will be temporary unless governments incorporate climate goals into rebuilding plans. Corinne Le Quéré, the lead author of the new study, warned in a press release that “these extreme decreases are likely to be temporary though, as they do not reflect structural changes in the economic, transport, or energy systems.”

The analysis also said that the extent to which the policy planners will include zero-emission targets and other climate change-related nuances while building the economic response to the crisis will determine the future of carbon emission for at least a decade to come.

(By: Gautam Kumar & Sandeep Mishra)

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