Coronavirus has temporarily reduced China’s CO2 emissions by a quarter


  • Heather Mason
  • Univadis Medical News
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Analyst Lauri Myllyvirta from the independent Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, reports significant reductions in CO2 emissions in China since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak.

Coronavirus containment measures have resulted in reductions of 15-40 per cent in output across key industrial sectors, the lowest two-week average in several years. Over the same period in 2019, China released around 400m tonnes (Mt) of CO2, meaning that the virus could have cut global emissions by 100 Mt CO2 to date.

Coal-fired power generation usually drops by an average of 50 per cent in the 10-days following the eve of Chinese new year. This year, this drop has been prolonged by 10 days so far, with no sign of rebound.

Further confirmation of the reduction in fossil-fuel use is seen in satellite imaging of nitrogen dioxide (NO2). In the week after Chinese new year, average levels were 36 per cent lower over China than the same period in 2019.

Measures taken by China to contain the virus are dramatically impacting aviation volumes. Figures from the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) suggest on-going flight suspensions have cut global CO2 emissions from passenger flights by around 11 per cent (3Mt) in the past two weeks.