Lockdown makes climate change targets more achievable

Man on bike with face mask - Lockdown makes climate change targets more achievable

The Coronavirus lockdown has, without a doubt, changed the energy requirements of the world. This is especially so in the transport sector, a domain that’s responsible for 23% of global carbon dioxide emissions. During this period, countries like the UK have seen a 60% decrease in the use of privately-owned cars which in turn reduces carbon emissions.

Climate change is directly affected by global warming. But global warming has its roots in the accumulation of greenhouse gases such as CO2. Therefore, a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions has a direct positive impact on climate change.

Reduction in CO2 levels due to the lockdown

On average, the coronavirus lockdown accounts for a 17% daily decrease in carbon dioxide emissions, with some countries recording a record 26% decrease. However, these estimates are in question since 2020 is facing slowed reporting on energy matters.

Also, the reduction in CO2 emission levels may be due to increased use of green business energy like solar, wind and heat pumps.

In countries like Germany, the first quarter of 2020 saw a CO2 emission decrease of 20m tonnes. However, three-quarters of the decline was due to other reasons other than the lockdown.

Impact of reduced CO2 emission

Richard Betts, UK’s Met Office Head of Climate Impact Research, likens the reduction of carbon dioxide emission to a small dent on the current CO2 build-up. In his words:

“It’s like we’re filling a bath and have turned down the tap slightly, but not turned it off – the water is still rising, just not as fast. To stop the bath overflowing, we need to turn the tap off.”

Estimates show that previous global shutdowns have decreased CO2­ emissions but only for a while. The discharge goes up again when the world re-opens. This scenario could repeat itself with COVID-19 lockdowns, especially now that the world is opening up.

What would CO2 rates be if the lockdown hadn’t happened?

Understanding what the carbon dioxide situation would look like without the lockdown, involves looking at the year before all this started. For the entire decade up to 2019, CO2 levels were rising by 1% annually. The CO2 concentration was 414.7 parts per million in 2019, and 2020 should have seen a 1% increase in that amount.

What changes could we see in the near future as a result?

While the overall reduction of CO2 concentration owing to the lockdown is meagre, the level of CO2 concentration may go down by 0.3%. This reduction is simply a drop in the ocean, considering the targeted concentration drop is 7.6%.

If there’s one lesson that the COVID-19 and the resulting lockdown have taught the world is that climate change is achievable and carbon dioxide concentrations are manageable. Soon, it would not be a surprise for governments to enact policies towards clean business energy. 

In the UK, post-lockdown policies heavily lean towards green energy. There are plans to invest in green energy, avoid greenhouse gases, and use low-carbon transport means.

Would you like to take part in the green movement? If so, you should take the right step towards a greener world by installing clean business energy connections in your business premises.

Sources:

https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/sites/2/2019/06/SR15_Full_Report_High_Res.pdf

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-020-0797-x

https://earthsky.org/earth/atmospheric-co2-record-high-may-2019

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200326-covid-19-the-impact-of-coronavirus-on-the-environment

https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-carbon-emissions-fall-by-more-than-a-third-in-lockdown-11983721

Related blog posts:

Future Net Zero: where do we go from here?

Flexible working & energy efficiency

Germany on track with first zero-emissions ‘hydrail’ project

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