A sudden reduction of both GHG emissions and air pollutants followed the global response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Using national mobility data, an article in Nature Climate Change estimates global emission reductions for ten species during the period February to June 2020. It estimates that global NOx emissions declined by as much as 30% in April, contributing a short-term cooling since the start of the year. This cooling trend is offset, however, by ~20% reduction in global SO2 emissions that resulted in a weakened aerosol cooling effect, causing short-term warming. As a result, the article’s authors estimate that the direct effect of the pandemic-driven response will be negligible, with a cooling of around 0.01 ± 0.005 °C by 2030 compared to a baseline scenario that follows current national policies. In contrast, with an economic recovery tilted towards green stimulus and reductions in fossil fuel investments, it is possible to avoid future warming of 0.3 °C by 2050.
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Image: “Sunny Days Weather San Pedro Sula Honduras” by quique123 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.
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