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22 May 2020
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Publications and Scientific Resources

Temporary reduction in daily global CO2 emissions during the COVID-19 forced confinement

In this Nature Climate Change paper, the authors attempt to estimate the decrease in daily CO2 emissions resulting from the containment of COVID-19.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a lasting impact on the modes of transport, consumption, and global energy demand. With the implementation of forced confinement and the closing of borders, these behaviors have contributed to a significant decrease in CO2 emissions over the period. 

In this article, the authors compile data on global emissions and relate them to the policies implemented, in order to estimate the impact of each on the reduction of emissions. Thus, the researchers deduce that global daily CO2 emissions have decreased by -17% at the beginning of April 2020 compared to the average levels of 2019, and up to a maximum of -26% depending on the country. 


The impact on annual emissions in 2020 is expected to depend on the duration of containment, with a low estimate of -4% if pre-pandemic conditions return by mid-June, and a high estimate of -7% (-3 to -13%) if some restrictions remain in force worldwide until the end of 2020. Decisions taken after the crisis are expected to have a lasting impact on the evolution of global CO2 emissions.


Authors: Le Quéré, C., Jackson, R.B., Jones, M.W. et al, in Nature Climate Change (2020).