Giving Compass' Take:

• Rob Jackson, a professor of earth system science in Stanford University’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences, discusses the drop in CO2 emissions during the pandemic. 

• How will this decrease help individuals respond to the climate crisis as more states reopen? 

• Read more about how COVID-19 has impacted carbon emissions in the U.S.

The paper in Nature Climate Change compiles government policies and activity data to pinpoint where energy demand has dropped off the most and to estimate the impact on annual carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

The study’s findings showcase the outlines of a greener economy and healthier society, says Rob Jackson, a professor of earth system science in Stanford University’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences who leads the Global Carbon Project.

Here, he explains what the current pandemic can teach us about behavior change, kickstarting a recovery, and more:

Does the Global Carbon Project’s study on daily declines in CO2 emissions associated with COVID-19 reveal any surprises?

The drop in global emissions we estimate this year will surprise some people in being “only” 4 to 7% because shelter-in-place rules are temporary and staggered across different countries. But it will still be the biggest emissions drop since World War II, though for undesirable and unsustainable reasons.

More surprisingly, US emissions declined one third for part of April, a shocking drop driven by reduced mobility, manufacturing, and electricity demand.

Global organizations, such as the IMF and UN, have called for a post-pandemic recovery that tackles the climate-change crisis. How would you sell that idea to the average person?

Almost $50 billion of stimulus funding after the 2008 recession helped transform wind and solar power and energy conservation. We’re still reaping the benefits today from green power, historically cheap wind and solar contracts, and a clean-energy industry that employs three million Americans. We have the same chance to reshape transportation now. We could start by freeing up the $40 billion in low-interest loans currently idled in the Department of Energy’s clean energy and advanced vehicle loan programs.

Read the full article about CO2 emissions drop during pandemic by Rob Jordan at Futurity.