People wearing protective facemasks walk along a street in Shanghai on February 19, 2020. The death toll from China's new coronavirus epidemic jumped past 2,000 on February 19 after 136 more people died, with the number of new cases falling for a second straight day, according to the National Health Commission.
AFP/Noel Celis
Coronavirus outbreak slashes China carbon emissions: study
(Agence France-Presse) - February 20, 2020 - 9:32am

BEIJING, China — The coronavirus epidemic that has paralysed the Chinese economy may have a silver lining for the environment.

China's carbon emissions have dropped by least 100 million metric tonnes over the past two weeks, according to a study published on Wednesday by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) in Finland.

That is nearly six percent of global emissions during the same period last year.

The rapid spread of the novel coronavirus — which has killed over 2,000 and infected more than 74,000 people across China — has led to a drop in demand for coal and oil, resulting in the emissions slump, the study published on the British-based Carbon Brief website said.

Over the past two weeks, daily power generation at coal power plants was at a four-year low compared with the same period last year, while steel production has sunk to a five-year low, researchers found.

China is the world's biggest importer and consumer of oil, but production at refineries in Shandong province — the country's petroleum hub — fell to the lowest level since autumn 2015, the report said.

Economic activity in China usually picks up after the Lunar New Year holiday, which began on January 25.

But authorities extended the holidays this year — by a week in many parts of the country including Shanghai — in an effort to contain the epidemic by keeping people at home.

"Measures to contain coronavirus have resulted in reductions of 15 percent to 40 percent in output across key industrial sectors," the report said.

"This is likely to have wiped out a quarter or more of the country's CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions over the past two weeks, the period when activity would normally have resumed after the Chinese New Year holiday."

But environmentalists have warned that the reduction is temporary, and that a government stimulus — if directed at ramping up production among heavy polluters — could reverse the environmental gains.

"After the coronavirus calms down, it is quite likely we will observe a round of so-called 'retaliatory pollutions' - factories maximising production to compensate for their losses during the shutdown period," said Li Shuo, a policy adviser for Greenpeace China.

"This is a tested and proven pattern."

Meanwhile, China's nitrogen dioxide emissions — a byproduct of fossil fuel combustion in vehicles and power plants — fell 36 percent in the week following the Lunar New Year holidays, compared with the same period a year earlier, according to another study by CREA that used satellite data. 

2019-NCOV CHINA COVID-19 NOVEL CORONAVIRUS
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: May 25, 2020 - 9:30am

Follow this page for updates on a mysterious pneumonia outbreak that has struck dozens of people in China.

May 25, 2020 - 9:30am

The US coronavirus death toll has risen by 638 over the past 24 hours, the Johns Hopkins University tracker reported Sunday night.

After that relatively small increase, the US toll now stands at 97,686 lives as of 8:30 pm (0030 GMT Monday), according to the Baltimore-based university, and US cases of infection now number 1,641,585. — AFP

May 25, 2020 - 9:20am

The US coronavirus death toll has risen by 638 over the past 24 hours, the Johns Hopkins University tracker reported Sunday night.

After that relatively small increase, the US toll now stands at 97,686 lives as of 8:30 pm (0030 GMT Monday), according to the Baltimore-based university, and US cases of infection now number 1,641,585. — AFP

May 24, 2020 - 4:30pm

The Department of Health records 258 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of people to have tested positive for the disease to 14,035.

The DOH also reports 72 new recoveries and five new deaths.

May 24, 2020 - 4:02pm

China 'open' to international effort to identify virus source, foreign minister says — AFP

May 24, 2020 - 9:12am

The United States records a further 1,127 deaths from COVID-19 on Saturday, bringing its total to 97,048 since the global pandemic began, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.

The country has also officially logged 1,621,658 cases of the virus, far more than any other nation, the tracker kept by the Baltimore-based university showed at 8:30 pm (0030 GMT Sunday). — AFP

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