Paris | Restrictions linked to the COVID-19 outbreak have led to an unprecedented drop in CO2 emissions in the first half of 2020, more than during the 2008 financial crisis and World War II, experts said on Wednesday.
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Containment measures taken by governments to counter the first wave of COVID-19 have caused a drastic drop in CO2 emissions linked to transport, aviation and energy, according to an international team of researchers, including the study was published in Nature Communications.
Based on figures for electricity production, vehicle traffic in more than 400 cities around the world, the number of flights, and production and consumption, they concluded that this drop in emissions was the most significant in the world. recent history.
CO2 emissions from transport plunged 40% in the first half of the year, those from energy production by 22% and those from industry by 17%, according to the study.
Those related to residential housing declined by 3%, despite massive teleworking, researchers attributing the decline to an unusually mild winter that limited heating needs.
The researchers noted, however, that emissions returned to their usual levels in July 2020, when most countries lifted the restrictions put in place.
The 2015 Paris Agreement plans to limit the temperature below 2 ° C, or even 1.5 ° C compared to the pre-industrial period. To meet this target, greenhouse gas emissions should be reduced by 7.6% per year between 2020 and 2030, according to the UN.
The authors of the study stress that the reduction in emissions in early 2020 will not help a reduction in the long term. It would take a “complete overhaul” of industry and commerce to achieve this, they add.
“While the drop in CO2 emissions is unprecedented, the drop in human activities cannot be the answer,” said study co-author Hans Joachim Schellnhuber of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). “We need structural and transformational changes to our energy production and consumption systems,” he says.