COVID-19 could well result in a 580 million tonne (1.5%) drop in global carbon emissions

Covid-19 is already slashing the number of flights and will result in an economic downturn. This life-threatening disease is shutting down economic function, and rightly, we need to protect people.

However, it also brings some other hidden benefits. We’re in the middle of a climate crisis and we need to at least half global carbon emissions by 2030 to avert runaway climate change. Global carbon emissions have been rising steadily, this trend needs to change to the magnitude of a 5% reduction a year.

What would 2020 look like in terms of carbon emission if we had 6 months slowed economic activity and we greatly reduced the number of flights? Let’s assume the number of flights taken this year halves and we experience an economic downturn the same as 2008.

Here are the results. We cut carbon emissions by 580 million tonnes of carbon. To put that into perspective the UK reported carbon emissions of 451 million tonnes in 2018. This drop-in carbon emissions is equivalent to 58 million gas-guzzling westerners, the planting of around 1 billion trees.

We could probably use a few other assumptions as well and come up with some other figures. Let us know what you think the economic impacts of COVID-19 may be and I’ll run some figures on how it’ll affect climate change.

Source data: World in Data, Carbon Brief

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This is a deeply irresponsible framing. Yes, a slowdown in global economic activity is needed to stop climate change. No that does not mean “COVID 19 is not all bad news”.

Reduced carbon emissions due to a pandemic that will likely kill huge numbers of people is not a good thing. You legitimise eco-fascist positions with this stuff, and risk making people associate consuming and producing less with quarantine and isolation, which is not the same. I would seriously suggest you remove this, or at least stop promoting it.

I’m sorry you feel that way, although I don’t agree. I’m not depicting some form of eco facism, simply doing a calculation about the possible environmental benefits of this health crisis.

That’s helping people see a brighter side of the issue.

I’m sorry you see it in such a dark light - perhaps some suggestions on how to improve the article (without taking it down) I could consider.

Sure talk about the possibility of changing the economic system in a way that protects people from covid and does something about climate. This is tone death at best. And I know you aren’t making eco-fascist arguments, but do you not see how this could be used to legitimise those arguiments?

I see your point. I’ve toned down the article.

I see from twitter you’re in isolation. I’m sorry about that and for enraging the situation due to this article.

I hoped it would be a good piece of news.