Estimated CO2 emissions reduction from Coronavirus

Wondering how much the current pandemic is reducing global CO2 emissions?

This is a great analysis by Carbon Brief.

The bottom-up estimate by Carbon Brief shows a 2,000 Megatonnes CO2 reduction, equivalent to a 5.5% drop in global CO2 emissions. In contrast, pre-pandemic emissions were projected to rise by 1%.

To limit global warming to 1.5C, we would need to achieve 7.6% annual CO2 emissions cut every year this decade.

Even the less stringent 2C limit would require sustained annual emission cuts of 2.7%.

1,300 of the estimated 2,000 MtCO2e emissions drop is due to the IEA projections of a 9.3% drop in oil demand this year.

This estimated emissions cut from the pandemic would amount to the biggest annual drop in emissions ever. It is between 2-4 times greater than the next 5 biggest annual drops ever recorded (World War 2, Recession in 91-92, Energy Crisis, Spanish Flu, and Financial Crisis)

The current crisis may only temporarily cut emissions. Deep structural changes are needed to sustain the rates of CO2 emission reductions that are needed to hit our climate targets.


We may see some long term structural reductions if oil & gas companies go bankrupt (although the US government are trying to stave this off). Ultimately the supply chain requirements for fossil fuel are vulnerable, and countries should also consider the benefits distributed renewables provide for energy independence.

Finally we have a real-life benchmark. Incredible statistic, thank you for sharing!