The list of negative consequences of the coronavirus is long: closure of all non-essential public places, schools, prohibition of gatherings of more than 100 people, anxiety, panic... It's hard to imagine that COVID-19 has any advantages for the planet. And yet, there is one.
Coronavirus: a spectacular drop in pollution in China
China has been at a standstill since the discovery of a new coronavirus, COVID-19, in January. Since the country has been placed under quarantine, there has been a sharp drop in pollution.
Finland's Research Centre for Energy and Clean Air has calculated that since February, CO2 levels in China have fallen by a quarter. That is 200 million fewer tonnes of toxic gas particles. Researcher Fei Lu said in a NASA press release:
'This is the first time I have seen such a dramatic drop-off over such a wide area for a specific event'
The researcher analysed satellite data and found that nitrogen dioxide, emitted by vehicles and industrial activities, dropped significantly between January and February.
This was particularly true in the Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong regions. Air quality in China is therefore much better since the beginning of the coronavirus epidemic.The same phenomenon can be found in Italy.
Coronavirus: the rate of greenhouse gas emissions is falling in Italy
The European Space Agency (ESA) shared an impressive video on the 13th of March. It shows a drop in nitrogen dioxide in Europe from the 1st of January to the 11th of March. And the results are the most apparent in northern Italy. Claus Zehner, director of the ESA, explained:
'We are very confident that the reduction in emissions that we can see coincides with the lockdown in Italy reducing traffic and industrial activities'
Unfortunately, many researchers are concerned about a rise in CO2 as soon as the pandemic ends.
For more details, see the video at the top of the article.