CO2 emissions have fallen sharply since the advent of the coronavirus as activity from business and travel has slowed, according to experts. For example, in New York, traffic levels are down by about 35%, leading to drops in carbon monoxide levels of nearly 50% compared with last year, researchers say (via the BBC).
These corrections will likely not be enough to have much of an impact on the environment, however, if everything goes back to “business as usual,” warns David Archer, a professor of geophysical sciences at the University of Chicago, writes The Hill.
Closure of factories in China during the outbreak caused a significant drop in smog levels, while air pollution in Italy has dropped, as well. In the US, where 50% of car trips take people from work or to school, similar declines are expected.
In fact, by May, CO2 emissions just may be at their lowest levels recorded in a decade, scientists predict.
But since a significant drop in airline business caused by travel restrictions is leading to severe financial pressure on the travel industry, airlines are expected to push back against proposed environmental taxes meant to address the industry’s carbon dioxide emissions.
“This is the kind of blip that the industry has repeatedly experienced over the last two decades,” Andrew Murphy, aviation manager at the campaign group Transport & Environment, told the New York Times. “Whether it’s a financial crisis or terrorist attacks, reductions in air travel tend to be temporary and then bounce back.”