While the world has been trying to prevent the Coronavirus from spreading, businesses have been shut down, the streets are empty, and flights are canceled. All of these actions have had an unintended benefit, pollution is dropping significantly.
As the epicenter of the outbreak, China has seen the most dramatic shift when it comes to pollution. Before this began, it was the world’s number one emitter contributing 30% of the world’s carbon emissions.
However, in just the month of February, emissions have dropped at least 25% from normal in China alone.
China Is a Much Cleaner Country as a Result
One month of containment has helped China so much. In that same month, the air quality of China was the cleanest it has been in a long time. The percentage of good air quality days rose by 21.5%.
Nasa released satellite imagery that showed the huge cloud of Nitrogen Dioxide (another greenhouse gas) disappearing. This is due to the shutdown of factories to prevent the Coronavirus from spreading.
Shutting down most factories also had another huge effect on emissions, because the amount of energy needed was reduced drastically. China still relies heavily on coal for energy and as we all know, coal is a very big carbon emitter.
During this month, coal usage fell by a whopping 36% which is equivalent to half of the carbon the UK releases in a year.
It’s Not Just China
Many countries around the world are limiting store hours, canceling flights in and out of the country, and taking other drastic measures to ensure the Coronavirus does not spread. This has resulted in less energy being used, fewer vehicles on the road, sea, and sky, and less pollution in general.
Expect a Return to Previous Emission Levels
One thing is clear, the world will not stay paralyzed forever. And when it resumes operations, you can bet countries and businesses will be ready. Pollution levels are likely to exceed the previous levels once they are clear to do so.
This means factories working longer to make up for the downtime, people driving out of their houses, flights and cruise ships resuming, and life as we know it will return to normal.