Coronavirus and local weather change: Will lockdown measures have a long-term affect? – BBC World Service

published on July 8, 2020

Coronavirus is affecting everything,including one pretty big thing -the environment Let's have a look at theglobal picture right now Around theworld, airports roads cities – they'reclosing down and their emissions arefalling In New York emissions of thegreenhouse gas carbon dioxide are downfive to ten percent In China emissionswere down about 25 percent at the startof the yearand the amount of coal used in thecountry's power industries has fallenoff a cliff And in Europe satellite

Images have shown over northern Italyemissions of nitrogen dioxide fadingaway That's the gas that can causerespiratory disease and it also causesacid rain But here is the big question -will these dips that we are seeing nowactually have a long-term effect on theenvironment and climate change? To answerthat let's look at why emissions are falling A big thing is that governments haveintroduced lockdowns so we aren'ttraveling anywhere near as much as we used to in

China India UK Italy Spain France – transport makes up nearly a quarter of carbon emissionsThere are fewer planes in the sky and that mattersbecause "hour for hour flying is thefastest way to heat the climate so allthe flights that are being reduced aresaving a lot of carbon" Another keyreason that emissions have dropped comesfrom industry which makes up nearly afifth of global greenhouse gas emissionsMany factories and businesses haveclosed their doors and their carbon

Emissions have fallen with them "Quitelikely more than 10% of total oil consumptionglobally has been wiped out and it hasmeant that many cities are measuring thebest air quality that they've ever seen"That's also had a huge impact on theeconomy and has meant many people arelosing their jobs So it's really not theway that anyone wanted to lower carbonemissions At the moment researchersthink that once you take our recoveryfrom the pandemic into account we might

See a dip in around 03 percent in ourcarbon emissions in 2020, so even thoughthere is this dip in emissions right nowyou've probably figured out the catchwhich is that when life goes back tonormalwell, so will emissions People will goon long distance holidays and coal-firedpower stations will fire up again surelyand it's not the first time we've seen atemporary dip in recent history Theglobal financial crisis in 2008 also

Caused a significant temporary drop inemissions but then lots of countriesstarted pumping out more carbonemissions again as they tried to rallytheir economies, like in China theChinese government started the largestand most polluting economic stimulusprogramme in history using billions oftons of steel and cement to build,causing a spike in China's air pollutionlevels and in China's carbon dioxideemissions That would mean that a crisis

Like this can increase emissions in theyears to come But there's another waythat the pandemic could be affecting theclimate negatively One is cancelling bigclimate conferences The UN's Cop 26conference scheduled for this year hasbeen postponed and climate scientistsare worrying that they can't physicallyget out and about to get the data thatthey need to do their workBut there is some optimism "This crisiscould be a big opportunity to reduce

Emissions in the longer term For a lot ofpeople there's no reason to go back tocommuting to an office every day" Thepandemic has made us think about howand where we get our food The loomingthreat of lockdown emptied somesupermarket shelves Might thisunfamiliar sight of empty shelvesrevive a 'waste not want not' mentality? andif it does maybe we won't end up wastingone third of the world's food like wenormally do But perhaps more important

Than any of that is the impact thatcoronavirus is having on us as acommunity "One thing that we see is thatpeople are willing to help and willingto make big changes and even sacrificeswhen it's necessary to protect publichealth That gives me a lot of hope thatwe have the capacity to tackle theclimate crisis"

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