May 15, 2020 - Energy & Environment

The post-coronavirus greenhouse gas emissions bounce back

illustration of the earth as a virus

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A new analysis finds that the steep U.S. greenhouse gas emissions decline stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic will have little effect on long-term trends under current policies.

What they did: The firm Energy Innovation modeled the emissions and energy demand effects of the pandemic using gross domestic product estimates from Goldman Sachs, the International Monetary Fund and the Energy Information Administration.

What they found: Their analysis sees the drop in U.S. emissions ranging 7% to 11% in 2020 compared to 2019 levels — and then coming back over the next few years.

  • "[E]missions will likely approach pre-COVID-19 levels by 2025 and COVID-19 is not likely to have a material impact on annual emissions in 2030 or cumulative emissions through 2050," they conclude.

What they're saying: Report author Megan Mahajan tells Axios that "the right stimulus response could change that business-as-usual trajectory."

  • "If the government’s COVID response includes green investments and smart policy, the U.S. could recharge the economy by kick-starting clean industries with the potential for serious decarbonization."
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