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Adapted from Le Quéré et al. Nature Climate Change (2020); Global Carbon Project; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

The world's daily carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions fell by 17% in April — the peak of global lockdowns aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus — when compared to 2019 levels, according to a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change on Tuesday.

The big picture: Though researchers say CO2 emission levels are again increasing as lockdowns are gradually lifted, they estimate that total emissions this year will be between 4% and 7% lower than 2019's total, which would be the largest annual decrease since the end of World War II.

  • The decrease in total emissions depends on how quickly lockdowns are lifted and whether economic activity fully resumes.

Of note: Researchers say that the 4% to 7% decrease in total emissions "is comparable to the rates of decrease needed year-on-year over the next decades to limit climate change to a 1.5 °C warming," which aligns with the goals set by the Paris climate agreement.

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Ben Geman: The analysis lends weight to the idea that major policy shifts — not lockdowns occurring for tragic reasons — are needed to drive sustained future cuts. It also echoes other experts who see massive government economic recovery packages as a way to create or accelerate those changes.

  • “[O]pportunities exist to set structural changes in motion by implementing economic stimuli aligned with low carbon pathways,” the study states.

By the numbers: China's carbon emissions for April fell by 242 megatons, while the United States' and India's fell by 207 and 98 megatons, respectively.

  • Almost half of the world's emissions reductions last month came from a drop in transportation pollution, as people confined to their homes drove less. Reduced air travel only accounted for 10% of the emissions drop.

Go deeper: U.S. renewable energy on track to surpass coal in 2020

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Aug 20, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Electric trucks could make a "significant dent" in carbon emissions

Reproduced from Rhodium Group; Note: Low and high estimates based on COVID-19 trajectory and recovery; Chart: Axios Visuals

Electric trucks have the potential to displace enough oil to make a "significant dent" in transportation sector CO2 emissions, per a Rhodium Group analysis.

Why it matters: There's lots of buzz — and a lot of money — around electric trucks these days.

Updated Oct 21, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Pfizer booster has 95.6% efficacy, large study shows — FDA authorizes mix-and-match for booster shots — J&J expects $2.5 billion of vaccine sales this year.
  2. Health: Cases and deaths keep falling — White House unveils plan to "quickly" vaccinate kids ages 5-11 — The global coronavirus vaccine gap — Gates Foundation to send $120 million of antiviral pills to lower-income countries.
  3. Politics: Reports: Brazil leader to be accused of crimes against humanity over COVID — Puerto Rico leads U.S. vaccination rates — Hawaii invites fully vaccinated travelers to return from Nov. 1.
  4. Education: Education secretary reveals limits to Biden’s mask push on states — LA extends deadline for school employee vaccinations — Parent sues Wisconsin school district after child tests positive.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Updated 2 hours ago - World

U.S. airstrike kills senior al-Qaeda leader in Syria, DOD says

A displacement camp near the village of Qah in Syria's northwestern Idlib province. Photo: Ahmad Al-Atrash/AFP via Getty Images

A U.S. airstrike in northwest Syria on Friday killed senior al-Qaeda leader Abdul Hamid al-Matar, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

Why it matters: Syria serves as a "safe haven" for the extremist group to plan external operations, according to U.S. Army Maj. John Rigsbee.