• Analysis shows an 8.8% drop in carbon dioxide emissions in first half of 2020

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      Patrick Lavery

      Combustion Industry News Editor

Recent analysis by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and collaborators has shown that carbon dioxide emissions fell by 8.8% in the first six months of the year compared to the same period of 2019. Such a percentage drop is the largest ever recorded, surpassing the oil crisis of 1979 and the Second World War, and at the nadir of economic activity in April, emissions were down by 16.9%. As previous analyses of the COVID-19 effect on emissions have found, ground transportation fell by the greatest margin (40%), while emissions from the power sector were 22% smaller, and industry 17% less. This analysis, however, has been the most comprehensive, taking in “hourly datasets of electricity power production in 31 countries, daily vehicle traffic in more than 400 cities worldwide, daily global passenger flights, monthly production data for industry in 62 countries [and] fuel consumption data for building emissions in more than 200 countries.” Corresponding to the huge reductions, however, have been large rebounds in emissions as economic activity has revived in many parts of the world, such as China. Because of this, the authors conclude that to reduce the severity of climate change, the world needs to make “structural and transformational changes in our energy production and consumption systems. Individual behaviour is certainly important, but what we really need to focus on is reducing the carbon intensity of our global economy.” It is hard to disagree.