According to the work of experts published Wednesday, October 14 in the journal Nature Communications (links in English), restrictions linked to the Covid-19 epidemic led to an unprecedented drop in Carbon dioxide emissions in the first half of 2020, more than during the financial crisis of 2008 and World War II.
This spring, governments around the world imposed lockdowns to contain the COVID-19 pandemic which curtailed energy use for industrial production and transport.
Based on figures for electricity production, vehicle traffic in more than 400 cities around the world, the number of flights, and production and consumption, they concluded that this drop in emissions was the most significant in the world. recent history.
The 8.8% reduction represents largest ever fall in emissions over the first half year, larger than for any economic downturn.
However, the study showed that emissions were starting to rise from their lockdown levels, particularly in China, which relaxed restrictions much earlier than did Europe and the US.
The researchers noted that in April, at the height of the first wave of coronavirus infections, when most major countries shut down their public life and parts of their economy, emissions even declined by 16.9 per cent.
"We were able to get a much faster and more accurate overview, including timelines that show how emissions decreases have corresponded to lockdown measures in each country", said Zhu, lead author of the study published in Nature Communications.
The various lockdowns around the world and the consequent economic recession reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 1.6bn tonnes from January to June - the equivalent of the past three years of United Kingdom greenhouse gas emissions.
In June, the power sector's emissions were only 1.1% lower in 2020 than in 2019, compared to being 9.7% lower in April, according to the analysis.
The accord envisages a safer limit of 1.5 degrees of warming - something the United Nations says would take an annual 7.7 percent reduction in emissions this decade to achieve.
They stress that the only valid strategy to stabilise the climate is a complete overhaul of the industry and commerce sector.
"While the Carbon dioxide drop is unprecedented, decreases of human activities can not be the answer", says Co-Author Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, founding director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.
The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) said this in a study released on Wednesday.
"We need structural and transformational changes in our energy production and consumption systems".