With almost the whole world grounded, flights have been cancelled, fewer cars are on the road, and public transport services have been reduced to a minimum.
Add to this the unprecedented number of people working from home - meaning closed offices, the disappearance of rush hour and factories halting certain operations - and it’s no surprise that carbon emissions are significantly lower than they were this time last year.
Take China, for example, where the pandemic began. Lauri Myllyvirta, an analyst for the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, wrote for Carbon Brief that from the beginning of February to the beginning of March, carbon emissions in China likely fell by a quarter – that’s around 200m tonnes, which, to put into perspective, is half the amount of carbon emissions Britain usually emits in an entire year.
Marshall Burke, an environmental resource economist from Stanford University in the USA, wrote on the blog G-FEED that two months of pollution reduction in China has ‘likely saved the lives of 4,000 kids under 5 and 73,000 adults over 70’ in the country.
Similar air pollution reductions have been seen in northern Italy, with nitrogen dioxide emitted from power plants, cars and factories in the part of the country dropping significantly.
Over in New York, Columbia University researchers reported that carbon monoxide levels are down around 50% compared to the same time last year – a positive side effect of having fewer cars on the the city's roads.