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The coronavirus outbreak will likely cause a drop in global carbon dioxide emissions that's far larger than any prior crisis or war, per a new analysis that combines multiple datasets to provide a wide-ranging look at the pandemic's effect.

What they found: The analysis from the U.K.-based Carbon Brief provides a tentative estimate that global CO2 emissions are likely to fall by more than 4% from 2019 levels.

Courtesy Carbon Brief
  • Data from countries and sectors not yet available is expected to increase the total, they find, and also note that some estimates of oil consumption declines have grown since they completed their post.
  • They also caution that efforts to gauge the virus' effects are complicated by unknowns about the duration of the crisis and lockdowns, among other variables.

Why it matters: It provides a sense of the staggering effects of the outbreak that's freezing huge amounts of travel and economic activity.

  • But it also provides an unfolding, real-time look at the immense challenge implementing policies that cut emissions steeply enough to meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement.

Here's how they contextualize a one-year drop of more 4%...

"Global emissions would need to fall by more than 6% every year this decade — more than 2,200MtCO2 annually — in order to limit warming to less than 1.5C above pre-industrial temperatures."

Don't forget: Tracking the emissions effects isn't the same as celebrating them. The Carbon Brief piece clears its throat by noting the pandemic is "decimating lives, livelihoods and the normal functioning of society."

Go deeper: The pandemic and pollution

Go deeper

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Winter view from Charlotte as winter storm Izzy creates dangerous conditions in Charlotte, N.C. on Jan. 16. Photo: Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A major winter storm was lashing much of the East Coast on Sunday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The big picture: Heavy snow and ice accumulations were "likely to produce hazardous travel," downed trees and more outages from the Mid-South to the Northeast, per the National Weather Service. Some parts of the U.S. can expect to see up to a foot of snow through Monday.

Updated 7 hours ago - Science

Volcanic eruption in Tonga caused "significant" damage

This satellite image of the eruption on Jan. 15 taken by Himawari-8, a Japanese weather satellite operated by Japan Meteorological Agency and released by National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT). Photo: NICT via AP

Significant damage has been reported in Tonga following an undersea volcanic eruption on Saturday, which covered the Pacific nation in ash and cut off communication lines.

Driving the news: The eruption triggered tsunami warnings across Tonga's islands and in other regions, including the West Coast of the U.S. and New Zealand, which were later lifted.

7 hours ago - World

North Korea launches 4th suspected missile test this month

A news broadcast in Seoul, South Korea, of an apparent North Korean missile test on Monday morning local time. Photo: Jung Yeon-je/AFP via Getty Images

North Korea's military fired "two suspected short-range ballistic missiles" eastward from Pyongyang on Monday morning local time, per South Korean and Japanese officials.

Why it matters: The fourth such launch since Jan. 5 comes days after North Korea's military warned of "stronger" action if the U.S. moved to have more sanctions imposed on the country.