Carbon emissions are falling sharply due to coronavirus. But not for long…

CO2 emissions are crashing as the world winds down, but experts say the drop won’t last if governments don’t start moving to cleaner energy.

IT IS BECOMING clearer every day that the scale of the societal disruption caused by the novel coronavirus is like nothing most people on Earth have ever witnessed. One stark indicator of the pandemic’s far-reaching impact is its effect on fossil fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions. If preliminary data from some of the world’s biggest economies is any indicator, emissions are in for a sharp, if temporary, decline.

A coal processing plant in central China’s Shanxi province. China’s carbon dioxide emissions fell by an estimated 200m tonnes in the four weeks to March 1 © AP

In China, carbon emissions were down an estimated 18 percent between early February and mid-March due to falls in coal consumption and industrial output, according to calculations first published by climate science and policy website CarbonBrief. That slowdown caused the world’s largest emitter to avoid some 250 million metric tons of carbon pollution—more than half the annual carbon emissions of the United Kingdom.

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