The spread of the Coronavirus has resulted in significant changes across the globe, including full lockdowns of countries and a ban on air travel but what impact has this had on our climate?
The pandemic has resulted in many people working from home, the temporary closure of intensive industries and the cancellation of flights across the world.
As a result, the world has seen a major decline in air pollution within cities, with a recent Sky News report showing a clear reduction across Europe when comparing images from space with those from this time last year (taken between the 5th & 25th of March).
Power plants and vehicles are usually the main cause of such pollution but with lockdowns in effect, these emissions have been reduced drastically.
In Madrid, air pollution is down by 56% compared to the previous week as the Spanish government banned non-essential travel. While over in Italy, Nitrogen Dioxide levels in Milan are 24% lower than they were four weeks ago.
The world’s biggest polluter China, also saw a major drop as the government imposed Draconian style measures to stop the virus spreading further.
The Chinese Minister of Ecology announced that ‘good quality air days’ increased by 21.5% in the month of February.
Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) also claimed that CO₂ emissions in China were down by at least 30% between the 3rd of February and the 4th of March – roughly equating to 200 million tonnes of carbon.
However, in contrast, some parts of Poland still see high levels of pollution as the country is still heavily reliant on coal-fired power.
Some experts now hope that the pandemic may have a silver lining by changing the way people travel, work and consume energy.
Working from home could become more prevalent across the western world, resulting in fewer cars on the road. This could also see home workers become more energy conscious in an attempt to lower costs.
Air travel could see a decline as lost revenue for airlines may see a hike in prices. Travel experts also expect a rise in ‘staycation’ popularity, as consumers consider factors such as health and the environment.
The long-term impact of the Coronavirus pandemic is still unclear but the environmental impact of transportation and industry is plain to see.
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