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Lockdown UK pollution decrease: CO2e emissions dropped 30 million tonnes

14 September 2020

NEW ANALYSIS of the effect of Coronavirus on pollution in the UK reveals how much the 12-week long social distancing measures (from 23 March) reduced emissions in five main areas: public transport; road vehicles; air travel; energy usage; and pollution in London.

Eco Experts, a home energy company, published the analysis that collated figures around the decrease of UK pollution due to governmental social distancing measures - quarantine, self-isolation, working from home - to control Coronavirus.

The analysis found that public transport journeys dropped to a mere 11.7% of normal levels, resulting in a reduction of 1.89million metric tonnes of CO2e. Road journeys fell to nearly 52.6% of usual levels, resulting in a saving of 15.2million tonnes, and there were 295,713 fewer flights, which saved 6.9 million tonnes of CO2e.

Although home energy consumption rose by up to 30%, the study states that overall demand has fallen 15% due to the save in business usage. This saved 6.4 million tonnes of CO2e.

The analysis also looks at the effects on the UK's most polluted city, London, noting that the capital’s emissions were reduced by at least 1,171,595 metric tonnes of CO2e. There has been a 26% reduction in NO2 in central London since 16 March.

Oxford Street’s daily average of NO2 emissions has declined by 47%, and overall, the amount of CO2e emissions saved during this time was 30.45 million tonnes, more than Eco Experts initially predicted.

Eco Experts writer and analyst, Josh Jackman, said: "We're very happy with how close our initial prediction was. We said the COVID-19 lockdown would reduce CO2e emissions by 28.22 million metric tonnes, and it’s declined by 30.45.

“This is an astounding figure, more than London emits over a whole year. It shows we have the power to reduce harmful pollution, improve our air quality, and fight climate change – if we decide to. Any claim to the contrary can be thrown out the window now.

“The main message from our data is that driving is the biggest emissions culprit. UK traffic didn’t fall as far as it could have, maintaining 53% of its usual level – and yet, that decline alone saved 15 million tonnes of CO2e.

“Public transport travel fell by 88 percentage points. Air travel dropped by 69%. But the combined 8.8 million tonnes of CO2e wiped out by these modes of travel doesn’t get close to road vehicles’ savings.

“Hopefully we’ll learn from these results, and take action. It shouldn’t require a global pandemic for us to effectively combat climate change.”

To read the full report visit: https://www.theecoexperts.co.uk/blog/coronavirus-pollution-uk