As C&I Productivity Plummets, So Do CO2 Emissions

(Credit: Pixabay)

by | Apr 3, 2020

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(Credit: Pixabay)

With the covid-19 pandemic stalling economies around the world, CO2 emissions could fall by as much as 5%, according to the Global Carbon Project (GCP); such a drop has not been seen since the end of World War II.

Rob Jackson, chair of the GCP and a professor at Stanford University, told Reuters he wouldn’t be surprised at a drop of 5% or more, which would be the first drop since a 1.4% dip following the financial crisis of 2008.

A decrease in economic productivity, and the resulting decline in energy use, can drive “dramatic reductions in environmental impacts,” according to Kevin Rose, assistant professor of biological sciences at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. “Greenhouses gases, such as carbon dioxide, have declined during many past recessions as energy-intensive economic activities slow,” he told Newsweek.

But since the drop will come from temporary situations including a massive reduction in airline travel and the shutting down of commercial and industrial business, as opposed to structural changes, a rebound in emissions is likely to occur as soon as the crisis has passed, experts have warned.

Such a rebound is already being seen in China, where emissions plummeted as much as 25% due to depressed manufacturing, reductions in energy use and measures put into place to limit people’s movement.

Strong governmental support for clean energy will be needed to keep the declines in CO2 in motion, experts say (via National Geographic). But such support is not a given and, in fact, some signs indicate that existing support may be reversed, at least in the US. For example, the United States’ historic $2 trillion stimulus package introduced at the end of March provides around $60 billion for the airline industry, but leaves out a requirement that the companies cut their greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2050.

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