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Coronavirus Is Flattening Climate Change's Curve

It appears that Coronavirus has succeded where Greta failed. A new forecast produced by climate experts of the Global Carbon Project which produces widely-watched annual emissions estimates, predicts that carbon dioxide emissions could fall by the largest amount since World War Two. Take China as an example. The Coronavirus has managed to seriously limit China's CO2 pollution, by far the biggest in the world and which accounts one third of global CO2 emissions, by cutting China's carbon dioxide emissions by about 100 million metric tons. Just to put this in perspective, 100 million metric tons of CO2 is what developed European countries like Portugal, Lithuania, Hungary and Czechia create together in a single year.

Air pollution in China before and after the epidemic.

However the global impact of the Coronavirus on climate change isn't just confined to China but is worldwide. Rob Jackson, a professor of Earth system science at Stanford University in California who chairs the Project, said carbon output could fall by more than 5% this year - the first dip since a 1.4% reduction after the 2008 financial crisis. "Neither the fall of the Soviet Union nor the various oil or savings and loan crises of the past 50 years are likely to have affected emissions the way this crisis is," he added.

Air pollution in Italy before and after the epidemic.

But experts warn that without structural change, the emissions declines caused by coronavirus could be short-lived and have little impact on the concentrations of carbon dioxide that have accumulated in the atmosphere over decades. However scientists are warning that the Corona virus epidemic impact on climate change might have only a temporary effect. Any reductions in pollution and carbon dioxide emissions are likely to be temporary, said Lars Peter Riishojgaard, from the infrastructure department of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), a United Nations agency based in Geneva. “While in the short term, carbon dioxide emissions would go down as cars stay put and aircraft remain on the ground, "we expect the impact will be fairly short-lived," Riishojgaard said. "The pandemic will be over at some point and the world will start going back to work and with that, the CO2 emissions will pick up again, maybe or maybe not to quite the same level."


This represents a tiny sliver of good news in the midst of both the Corona virus and the climate change crisis: climate scientists had warned world governments that global emissions must start dropping by 2020 to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Whether temporary or not, Coronavirus had a huge impact on climate change, much bigger than all the climate activists like Al Gore or Greta Thunberg could ever hope to have, but tragically this came at a terrible cost of tens of thousands of people who died from the disease and this should never be forgotten or downplayed.

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