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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 12 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Most COVID-19 survivors can weather risk of reinfection, study says — "Twindemic" averted as flu reports plummet amid coronavirus crisis
  2. Vaccine: FDA advisory panel endorses J&J COVID vaccine for emergency use — About 20% of U.S. adults have received first vaccine dose, White House says — New data reignites the debate over coronavirus vaccine strategy.
  3. Economy: What's really going on with the labor market.
  4. Local: All adult Minnesotans will likely be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine by summer — Another wealthy Florida community receives special access to COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Sports: Poll weighs impact of athlete vaccination.
Bryan Walsh, author of Future
17 mins ago - Technology

How the automation economy can turn human workers into robots

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

More than outright destroying jobs, automation is changing employment in ways that will weigh on workers.

The big picture: Right now, we should be less worried about robots taking human jobs than people in low-skilled positions being forced to work like robots.