COVID-19 cut China's carbon dioxide emissions by a quarter: Report

COVID-19 may have shaved off more than 100 tonnes of CO2 in the early February 2020

By DTE Staff
Published: Friday 21 February 2020
The Coronavirus could have possibly shaved off more than 100 metric tonnes of CO2 Photo: Pixabay

This story was corrected on February 25, 2020 to change the headline to reflect the 25 per cent reduction was in China's CO2 emissions, not the world's. The story was published on February 21, 2020.

As China attempts to control the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), an indirect side-effect of the outbreak has been the wiping out of more than a quarter of the country’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in early February 2020.

This when China’s economic activity usually picks up after the country’s annual Lunar Year holidays; with electricity demand and industrial output  far below their usual levels.

COVID-19 may have shaved off more than 100 metric tonnes of CO2 (MtCO2) in early February 2020, according to a report by climate watch website Carbon Brief.

Measures taken to control the epidemic resulted in reductions of 15 to 40 per cent in output across key industrial sectors.

China had released more than 400 tonnes in the same period in 2019.

Every winter during China’s new-year holidays, the country shuts shop for a week. Construction sites, commercial establishments and several industries wind down operations during the holiday. Once the holidays are over, industrial demand as well as emissions pick up in most of the years. But that has not been the case in 2020, as the Chinese government extended of the annual holidays to tackle the spread of the virus.

How COVID-19 cut CO2

Source: Analysis of data from WIND Information. Chart by Carbon Brief using Highcharts

Carbon Brief said its estimates of reduced emissions were based on sectorwise fossil fuel consumption data for February 2019. They factored in year-on-year changes in indicators such as power generation and refineries. 

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