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New data reveals that COVID-19 may cause a worldwide reduction in CO2 emissions and pollution

In line with information released by NASA and ESA at the beginning of the month, a study by Carbon Brief shows that actions taken by China to mitigate the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) have reduced the country's CO2 emissions by 25%. Experts say that as more and more countries close factories, cancel events, reduce the number of flights taken and implement mandatory quarantine measures, there may be a marked reduction in car emissions, the first since the 2008 global financial crisis .

In addition to the decrease in Nitrogen Dixide seen in China since the end of December 2019, analysts indicate that coal consumption in the country's power plants decreased by 36%, with the capacity of oil refineries decreasing by 34% . The indicators are thus reflected in an improvement in air quality in the country.

Timelapse of factory production in China between January and FebruaryTimelapse of factory production in China between January and February credits: Planet Labs

According to Franois Gemenne, director of The Hugo Observatory, in France, taking preventive and mitigating measures worldwide may be more beneficial for reducing deaths due to atmospheric pollution than for COVID-19. In a Forbes interview, the official points out that more than 1 million people die in China each year due to the high levels of polluting elements in the air. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that, globally, the death toll is around 7 million.

The apparently "positive" effects of COVID-19 for the environment should not be overestimated, said Antnio Guterres in a recent presentation at UN headquarters. According to information provided by the Associated Press, the UN Secretary-General recalled that while the new temporary coronavirus, climate change will continue for decades, requiring constant action.

In China, in particular, the reduction in high CO2 emissions may be short-lived if the factories, when reopening, increase production exponentially to compensate for losses. The government of Xi Jinping has announced that it will provide a stimulus package for the Chinese economy to combat the effects of COVID-19, which, in the final analysis, could regress the environmental progress of the past few months.