The coronavirus pandemic might have had a silver lining—make that a green lining. When most of the world went into lockdown in 2020, planes stopped flying, commuters stopped commuting, and daily emissions dropped 17 percent below the previous year’s average, according to research published in Nature Climate Change. It was the single biggest drop in CO2 emissions ever recorded.
Now that we're returning to work and school, these gains could quickly disappear. Or maybe not.
“We can’t just turn off our economy to reduce carbon emissions; that’s not a good solution,” says Elizabeth Thomas, a climate change scientist and professor at the University at Buffalo.