Photo: Andrea Ronchini/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Levels of nitrogen dioxide pollution fell drastically in parts of Italy — a direct result of the country closing borders and businesses to mitigate the novel coronavirus outbreak, The Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: The drop in saturation of greenhouse gases in Italy shows the impact humans have on the environment, and how quickly emissions can plummet when people reduce the burning of fossil fuels, the Post writes. Nitrogen dioxide is not the primary greenhouse gas linked to climate change, but serves as a proxy for other emissions.

  • It also is a pollutant that can increase the risk of asthma, inflammation of the lungs and other harmful health conditions.

The state of play: The decrease is likely a result of the decline in cars on the road, half of which run on diesel in Italy, along with power plants and industrial sources.

  • Experts said the changes likely reflect the decline of driving in particular, in a nation where over half of cars burn diesel.

Yes, but: Climate advocates didn't think it would take a pandemic for pollution to dip, per the Post.

  • The outbreak has prevented climate action protests from taking place.
  • Additionally, this drop is expected to be only temporary.

The bottom line: "Beyond the public health and economic crises, [Riccardo Valentini, a professor at Italy’s University of Tuscia] said, the pandemic ultimately could trigger the most significant reduction of greenhouse gas emissions of the past century," the Post writes.

Go deeper: Italy quarantines 16M as northern region placed on coronavirus lockdown

Go deeper

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 32,471,119 — Total deaths: 987,593 — Total recoveries: 22,374,557Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 7,032,524 — Total deaths: 203,657 — Total recoveries: 2,727,335 — Total tests: 99,483,712Map.
  3. States: "We’re not closing anything going forward": Florida fully lifts COVID restaurant restrictions — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam tests positive for coronavirus.
  4. Health: Young people accounted for 20% of cases this summer.
  5. Business: Coronavirus has made airports happier places The expiration of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance looms.
  6. Education: Where bringing students back to school is most risky.
Mike Allen, author of AM
13 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden pushes unity message in new TV wave

A fresh Joe Biden ad, "New Start," signals an effort by his campaign to make unity a central theme, underscoring a new passage in his stump speech that says he won't be a president just for Democrats but for all Americans.

What he's saying: The ad — which began Friday night, and is a follow-up to "Fresh Start" — draws from a Biden speech earlier in the week in Manitowoc, Wisconsin:

Trump prepares to announce Amy Coney Barrett as Supreme Court replacement

Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Photo: Matt Cashore/Notre Dame University via Reuters

President Trump is preparing to nominate federal appeals court Judge Amy Coney Barrett of Indiana, a favorite of both the social conservative base and Republican elected officials, to succeed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Republican sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: Barrett would push the already conservative court further and harder to the right, for decades to come, on the most important issues in American politics — from abortion to the limits of presidential power. If confirmed, she would give conservatives a 6-3 majority on the high court.

Get Axios AM in your inbox

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!