Due to COVID-19, many have lost their lives, jobs, and family. This outbreak warranted the practice of social distancing and self-quarantine to prevent the spread of infectious disease. With individuals leaving their homes only for essentials, cities across the globe have become uncommonly still.
Due to the stay at home orders, transportation involving cars, buses, and planes have decreased dramatically. All three of these forms of transportation release mass amounts of carbon dioxide and the sudden absence of it has made a noticeable difference. Air quality has improved with the significant drop in CO2 and may even be similar to levels over a decade ago.
According to Columbia University researchers, the lack of trucks and cars on the streets has dropped the amount of carbon monoxide by 50% in New York.
“New York has had exceptionally high carbon monoxide numbers for the last year and a half. And this is the cleanest I have ever seen it. It is less than half of what we normally see in March,” said Professor Róisín Commane from Columbia University.
Across the planet, similar research has surfaced. China’s energy use and emissions have lowered by 25% leading to an overall fall of 1% in their carbon emissions. Italy has experienced a great decline in nitrogen dioxide, a serious pollutant that is an indirect contributor to climate change, alongside China.
Italy’s famous waterways in Venice have become clearer and fish are more prominent, showing the lockdown has some unexpected positive outcome. The climate’s benefit during this difficult time might not last, however. Depending on how countries plan on re-stimulating their economy, carbon emissions may increase in comparison to levels previous to the pandemic.
“I certainly think the climate could go on the back burner, and in this case, I don’t think there is much hope that stimulus goes to clean energy. The only silver linings could be to learning new practices to work remotely, and buying a few years of lower growth allowing solar and wind to catch up a bit,” said Professor Glen Peters from Centre for International Climate Research.
Analysts believe the stimulus package following the pandemic will be focused on economic growth despite its effects on the environment.