The COVID-19 pandemic cut carbon emissions down to 2006 levels

Illustration by Grayson Blackmon

The amount of carbon dioxide humans are responsible for generating worldwide each day fell by 17 percent this April compared to the daily average for 2019. The steep drop is a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to estimates published today in the journal Nature Climate Change. That gets the world to about the same amount of planet-heating pollution it was pumping out in 2006, showing how much greenhouse gas emissions have grown in just the last 14 years.

Most of the cuts in CO2 came from manufacturing, power generation, and transportation and shipping — excluding aviation. The aviation industry has been particularly hard hit by the pandemic. Aviation’s carbon footprint shrank by 60 percent, but it has a far smaller impact on the…

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