CO2 emission picks up after easing of restrictions : study

COVID-19-induced lockdown helped cut emissions by a quarter in Bangladesh

Emran Hossain | Published: 00:49, Jun 04,2020


A new study published in Nature Climate Change journal last month revealed that the lockdown restrictions prompted by the coronavirus crisis reduced daily carbon dioxide emissions in Bangladesh by 23.7 per cent compared to last year’s average.

Globally, the daily carbon dioxide emissions fell by 17 per cent on an average, according to the study, which examined the impacts of the global pandemic on human activities, especially their energy consumption patterns.

Published on May 19, the study said that the global daily carbon emissions decreased by 18.7 million tonnes in early April, the biggest fall in daily carbon dioxide emission since World War II.

‘I believe we all felt a change in the air. This year March and April felt cooler than we expected them to be,’ said Dhaka University’s chemistry professor Abdus Salam.

Carbon dioxide concentrated in the atmosphere traps heat in the earth’s atmosphere by affecting heat radiation, explained Salam.

Carbon combined with other materials in the atmosphere is responsible for many diseases attributed to air pollution, including cancers, said Salam.

Scientists confirmed that the earth’s atmosphere contained the highest concentration of carbon dioxide in recorded history because of anthropogenic causes.

The study published by the UK-based journal said that the spread of the new coronavirus on a global scale by March 11 after its emergence was declared in China at the end of December, compelled people around the world to halt activities responsible for global carbon dioxide emissions.

Bangladesh owed a large portion of the daily carbon dioxide emission reduction to the closure of industries, which accounted for nearly 25 per cent decrease in CO2 emissions.

The power sector accounted for over 15 per cent of the decrease in the emissions while surface transport for nearly 10 per cent, said the report.

Emissions from commercial and aviation sectors also fell significantly, according to the report.

The global trend however was slightly different from Bangladesh, with the highest emission reduction coming from reduced surface transport, accounting for 43 per cent of the overall emission decrease.

Industry and power accounted for further 43 per cent reduction in emissions.

The pandemic affected the aviation sector the most but it accounted for only 3 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions, said the report.

The study found an increase in residential carbon dioxide emissions apparently because of increased home activities after people were forced to home confinement in many places in the world.

The highest reduction among Southeast Asian countries studied was recorded in Pakistan with 30.6 per cent less emissions compared to last year.

In India the carbon dioxide emission reduced by 27.7 per cent.

Luxembourg saw the highest 44.6 per cent individual fall in emissions.

‘Opportunities exist to make real, durable, changes and be more resilient to future crises, by implementing economic stimulus packages that also help meet climate targets, especially for mobility, which accounts for half the decrease in emissions during confinement,’ said professor Corinne Le Quéré of the University of East Anglia, UK, who is also the lead author of the study.

As the fall in emissions was due to a forced change rather than a structural reformation, the study predicted the emissions to return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2020 or next year.

Currently the world emits 100 metric tonnes carbon dioxide a day. Compared to last year, until the end of April, the world emitted 1048 million tonnes less, said the study.

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