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News Article

Why COVID-19’s Emissions Drop Is Not Enough

By Cas Biekmann | Tue, 07/14/2020 - 14:56

Due to worldwide lockdowns induced by COVID-19, polluting emissions have dropped drastically. This is good news as it provided people with an unusual glimpse into what a cleaner horizon actually looks like. But experts warn that the drops are no cause for celebration, as based on reports from Bloomberg News and National Geographic.

The somewhat gloomy outlook on what was a positive spin on COVID-19’s impact is based on two main factors: the economic damage sustained in ‘achieving’ the emissions drop and the continued piling up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Bloomberg News cites Rhodius Group’s research, which focuses on the US. Greenhouse gasses dropped by a staggering 18 percent compared to last year and drops are likely to continue throughout the rest of the year. More modest drops are even predicted to continue throughout the decade. The main problem, however, is that these savings do not compare favorably to the economic devastation brought by COVID-19. To cut 1 ton of CO₂, the economy paid with losses between US$3,200 and US$5,400. The amount is around 100 times that of some proposals for a carbon tax in the US. While no cohesive study of this nature exists in Mexico, economic effects of the pandemic are similarly negative: The New York Times reported yesterday that Mexico has already lost 1.1 million formal jobs since March, to name one figure.

Carbon dioxide continues to build up in the Earth’s atmosphere, nevertheless. National Geographic reported in May, in the midst of the global pandemic, record level of particles equaling about 418 parts per million. As this figure practically has the biggest effect on climate change, experts argue that measures to fight climate change are as urgent as ever.

In some instances, the fabled blue skies remained unseen. Mexico City, for instance, still deals with bad air quality despite a 60 percent reduction in traffic, reports Mexico News Daily. Part of the issue is that Mexico’s pollution has much more complex origins than just traffic. A pollution cocktail is at the basis of the city’s troubles. It includes fuel generators, pollution expelled from its neighboring volcano, forest fires, slash-and-burn agriculture, oil refineries and a lack of bodies of water.

The data used in this article was sourced from:  
Bloomberg News, National Geographic, New York Times, Mexico News Daily
Cas Biekmann Cas Biekmann Journalist and Industry Analyst