Will COVID Pandemic’s Environmental Benefit Last?

WEDNESDAY July 15, 2020 (HealthDay News) – This is the only silver lining in the coronavirus pandemic – cleaner air and water on the planet. But will it continue?

A new study says it’s not yet clear.

“The pandemic raises two important environmental issues,” said study author Christopher Knittel, of the MIT Sloan School of Management in Boston. “First, what is the short-term impact on fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions? Second – and more important but more difficult to answer – what are the longer-term implications of the pandemic on these same variables?

“The health effects of the pandemic could span decades – if not centuries – depending on the political response,” he said.

“If the pandemic leads to a persistent global recession, there is a real threat to the adoption of clean technologies, which could outweigh any” silver lining “in terms of environmental benefits,” said the co-author of the Jing Li study, also from MIT Sloan School. Management.

For the study, the researchers analyzed the effect of the pandemic on carbon dioxide (CO2) levels from late March to June 7.

They found reductions in the use of jet fuel (50%) and gasoline (30%). Natural gas consumption also fell by almost 20% and demand for electricity fell by less than 10%.

“Overall, these reductions reflect a total reduction of 15% in daily CO2 emissions, the largest annual percentage decline in the United States in history,” Knittel said in a press release from the MIT. “We estimate that the closings have saved approximately 200 lives per month, largely due to lower emissions from transportation.”

However, the researchers noted that due to the pandemic, investment in the transition to low-carbon energy has stopped. For example, global sales of electric cars are expected to drop 43% in 2020 as all car sales decline.

In addition, solar and rooftop storage facilities declined and jobs in clean energy fell by almost 600,000 in late April.

“The short-term impact of the pandemic is clear, but the long-term impact is very uncertain,” said Li. “It will depend on how long it will take to contain the pandemic and the duration of any economic recession “.

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