NATIONWIDE -- Fewer vehicles on the road. Substantially less energy use. The coronavirus pandemic has been nothing short of disastrous economically and otherwise, but some of its byproducts caused a positive environmental impact, a new study found.


What You Need To Know

  • Study finds 17% drop in carbon emissions for one week in April 

  • United States cut emissions by about one-third during that period

  • Drop in emissions largely attributed to few vehicles on roads

  • Pollution levels already trending back upward 


Daily emissions of carbon dioxide for one week in April were down 17 percent from the same period a year ago, according to the study, which was published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Emissions in 2020 will likely be down between 4 percent and 17 percent from 2019, marking the biggest annual drop in carbon emissions since World War II, scientists stated.

Still, pollution levels are already increasing since the peak of the shutdown, and the drop, unfortunately, is unlikely to have much of an effect on climate change.

The study further found that the United States for one week in April cut carbon emissions by about one-third. China in February cut emissions by nearly 25 percent.

Nearly half of the decrease was attributed to fewer vehicles on roads. People haven’t been flying much either, but that accounted for only about 10 percent of the drop in pollution.

The effects were probably short-lived, the study’s authors found. By April 30, world carbon pollution levels had increased by 3.3. million tons per day from its low point earlier in the month.

The study states that if the world could sustain the drop in carbon emissions that we saw in April for a few decades, the Earth could avoid warming another 1.8 degrees from where it stands now. That prospect is unlikely, the study concludes.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.