Coronavirus has temporarily reduced China’s CO2 emissions by a quarter


As China battles one of the most serious virus epidemics of the century, the impacts on the country’s energy demand and emissions are only beginning to be felt.

Electricity demand and industrial output remain far below their usual levels across a range of indicators, many of which are at their lowest two-week average in several years.

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The measures to contain coronavirus have resulted in reductions of 15% to 40% in output across key industrial sectors. This is likely to have wiped out a quarter or more of the country’s CO2 emissions over the past two weeks, the period when activity would normally have resumed after the Chinese new-year holiday.

The estimated CO2 reduction is based on fossil-fuel consumption data by sector and fuel for February 2019, and estimating year-on-year changes using sector activity indicators: daily coal consumption at power plants; coking plant; blast furnace and steel plant operating rates; and oil refinery operating rates.

Residential fuel use is assumed to be unaffected. The estimate aligns with satellite-based NO2 levels, which point to the possibility of an even larger reduction.


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