London’s CO2 emissions cut by almost 60% during lockdown

Measurements from BT Tower observatory show impact of reduced activity in UK’s capital due to COVID-19 pandemic

UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology

IMAGE: The figure, above left, shows the daytime cycle of CO2 emissions from central London in the lockdown period (in purple) compared with the measurements during the same period in previous… view more  Credit: UKCEH

A new comprehensive analysis has revealed carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in London have reduced by almost 60 per cent during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Previous analyses of CO2 emission reductions have been based on estimates of changes in traffic, industrial and commercial activity during the lockdown. Changes in atmospheric concentrations of this and other greenhouse gases can be difficult to interpret because they depend strongly on meteorological conditions.

Direct measurements of the emissions themselves are hence required but relatively few sites are equipped to do this, one being the BT Tower Atmospheric Observatory in London. Scientists from the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and the University of Reading say their measurements from the BT Tower have shown clear evidence of a significant reduction in CO2 emissions in London between the start of the lockdown on 23 March and the first week of May, compared with the long-term average for this time of year.

For the period 8am-8pm, the reduction in CO2 emissions was 58 per cent which very closely mirrors the daily reduction of 60 per cent in traffic flow in central London reported by Transport for London during the first five weeks of the UK’s lockdown.

Dr Eiko Nemitz of the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH) says: “The 190m-tall BT Tower in central London is an excellent platform for pollution monitoring at the heart of Europe’s largest city; these measurements offer a unique insight into changes in fossil fuel use and CO2 emissions both during the lockdown and as we gradually come out of it. They will also help us understand how emissions of other pollutants have changed over this unprecedented period.”

The lockdown has significantly reduced London’s daytime population and commercial activity. However, it is difficult to quickly calculate the emissions from individual sources such as vehicle traffic, natural gas usage for heating of buildings, plus exhalation from people – particularly as these are mitigated slightly by carbon ‘sinks’, mainly through the uptake of CO2 by vegetation in parks, gardens and streets.

But Dr Nemitz says: “The fact that the reduction in CO2 emissions in central London almost exactly correlates with the reduction in traffic provides further evidence that vehicle emissions are a major source of CO2 in London, and that traffic is closely linked with other CO2-emitting activities such as the heating of shops and offices.

“The short-term reductions in emissions will not markedly change global atmospheric concentrations of CO2 and global warming. However, measurements of pollution during the lockdown and as it eases will provide valuable evidence on how air quality might change as sources of emissions are reduced, for example as part of the UK’s transition to net zero greenhouse gas emissions.”

Professor Janet Barlow of the University of Reading explains the longer-term impact of the lockdown on emissions is difficult to predict because behaviours might change as lockdown rules are relaxed. She says: “Some people may prefer to use private cars rather than public transport to avoid the risk of contracting COVID-19, which may cause a fast growth of emissions that may exceed those of the pre-lockdown period. On the other hand, the lockdown may kick-start a new enthusiasm for walking and cycling, and some cities are now investigating measures to promote alternatives to car use. In addition, regular home working may remain the norm for many people.”

The BT Tower Atmospheric Observatory collaborates with the Integrated Carbon Observation System (ICOS), a European-wide greenhouse gas research network. Measurements of CO2 emission reductions from monitoring sites elsewhere in Europe, over a 24-hour period compared with the same time last year, ranged from 8 per cent in a highly vegetated urban area of Berlin to 75 per cent in the city centre of Heraklion, Greece. Reductions in CO2 emissions in parts of Florence, Basel and Helsinki during the lockdowns were around 40 per cent.



1. The ICOS study used slightly different methodology and timeframes to the measurements quoted for London in this release. The study, which has not yet been peer reviewed, is available at

2. The BT Tower Atmospheric Observatory is a collaboration between UKCEH, the University of Reading and the National Centre for Atmospheric Science. Measurements of CO2 and methane emissions first began in 2006. The research is supported by National Capability funding from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). UKCEH is a strategic delivery partner for the NERC, part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

From EurekAlert!

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May 19, 2020 10:18 pm

The economic damage caused by the lock-down provide valuable evidence on how people’s lives will change if sources of emissions are reduced as part of the UK’s transition to net zero greenhouse CO2 emissions. In addition the electricity will be off when the wind is not blowing at night.

Reply to  nicholas tesdorf
May 20, 2020 1:19 am

Imagine how quickly ICU patients will perish when electric power becomes intermittent. Unless of course massive standby diesel generators with unrestricted fuel supplies are in place.

old white guy
Reply to  brians356
May 20, 2020 1:12 pm

I guess the eventual death of tens of millions is the desired goal of the green freaks.

Reply to  nicholas tesdorf
May 20, 2020 3:54 am

will provide valuable evidence on how air quality might change as sources of emissions are reduced, for example as part of the UK’s transition to net zero greenhouse gas emissions.”

The claimed aim is “zero carbon” not zero GHG. CO2 is the main gas they are aiming to reduce and is NOT as factor in “air quality”.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Greg
May 20, 2020 9:50 am

Greg, they didn’t include the increased use of domestic electricity by locked down residents. The fossil and biomass fuel burned for this is far outside the city.

Reply to  nicholas tesdorf
May 20, 2020 3:58 am

Wind does not stop blowing offshore at night, anyway with the widespread adoption of electric vehicles that are grid tied there will be more than enough electricity for all.
The surplus solar harvested electricity will be dumped int the batteries of EVs that in the real world spend over 90% of their lives parked up then released back to the grid when needed.

Plus of course as proven by this article, cleaner air for all!

Paul Stevens
Reply to  Phil
May 20, 2020 4:35 am

So, electric vehicles are charged up at night, then used to drive to your place of work. They are then parked and plugged into an outlet that allows the electric utility to siphon electricity out of them during the day when demand is highest. Then the vehicle owners get off work, get on their bicycles to travel home…Wait. Something doesn’t make sense!

Reply to  Paul Stevens
May 20, 2020 6:05 am

Strawman argument, the car owner reserves his required energy for the return home.
if it is a sunny or windy day the car will be fully charged.

Plus of course all the static storage that is continually being added to the system.

Reply to  Phil
May 20, 2020 8:19 am

“if it is a sunny or windy day the car will be fully charged.”

And if it’s not?

How is the People’s Glorious Electric Vehicle Charge Committee going to know how much of a charge I need today?

Letting the Glorious People’s National Grid suck power out of my car is a ludicrous idea. It’s like letting gas stations siphon gas to sell from my car while it’s at work, with the promise that they’ll totally refill the tank before I leave. No-one would accept that nonsense, but because it’s electric we’re suddenly supposed to believe it’ll work.

Walter Sobchak
Reply to  Phil
May 20, 2020 8:45 am

“Strawman argument, the car owner reserves his required energy for the return home.”

Car owners who have their wits about them do not allow their charge to be siphoned off during the day.

Things can happen, an emergency side trip in the evening to meet your wife at the hospital where your child is being treated for an injury. A freeway pile-up that brings traffic to a dead stop for an hour during freezing weather.

Only the most imprudent would give up their charge until they were safely home.

Reply to  Phil
May 20, 2020 9:36 am

if it is a sunny or windy day the car will be fully charged.
This god man is working alone there, so only one car has to be charged. Hmmmm.
What if there are ten or more cars to be re-charged ? Ask you for a second sun or a stronger wind ?

Reply to  Phil
May 21, 2020 9:57 am

You’re not an engineer, scientifically or mechanically-inclined, are you Phil….

Reply to  beng135
May 24, 2020 3:50 pm

OK so you can’t counter the point, so you decide to attack the poster instead – Well done! 🙂
In answer to your comments, I designed and built my own house including getting planning permission, specifying the materials and 80% of the construction including building the hot water boiler from scratch.
As for the EV battery sharing, it is simple,
Lets imagine you have a 50KW/h battery in your car
You charge it up to 90% overnight, then drive to work using only 10% of the charge.
Plug it onto the load sharing unit at work, during the day the battery is being charged and discharged as the loads vary if the weather is favorable, you can end up with a car that has 90% or it it is a still cloudy day you may only have 40% you only need 10% to drive home so no issues there.

you also get paid for the energy consumed from your vehicle, so if you have a solar panel system (which I do)you can charge up for free and get paid for the energy you’ve “shifted” to the next day.

B d Clark
Reply to  Phil
May 24, 2020 4:28 pm

Your 10% use of capacity drive to work sounds very optimistic, ideal weather and driving conditions, what happens in the northern hemisphere on a winters day and night, i some how doubt 10% is going to be anything like a realistic figure ,

During a winter charge car battery’s are going to be considerably less than the park up 80% you state,that means a considerable amount of extra charge time x the number of cars also needing the charge, there will be no recycling back to the grid, even if the grid can supply the need of cars during the winter months , I for one can see cars electric, being stranded with drivers not wishing to drive home on a battery barley able to make it,
Traffic jams, slow traffic ,still means you need the heater and demist,lights, that’s if we use your scenario of cars recycling their charge.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Phil
May 20, 2020 5:49 am

Phil, if you had a brain and the sense to use it, you’d be dangerous.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Phil
May 20, 2020 5:52 am

Phil, having read some of your posts down-thread I believe I may owe you an apology. A “/sarc” tag next time would be helpful, but apologies in any case.

Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
May 20, 2020 7:38 am

If a /sarc tag is necessary, the prose is inelegant and needs improving. Did Mark Twain need /sarc tags?

David Blenkinsop
Reply to  brians356
May 20, 2020 11:35 am

That reminds me:

“A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”

Reply to  Phil
May 20, 2020 5:53 am

Wind can stop blowing anywhere at any time. There is not widespread adoption of electric vehicles. Solar supplies a small fraction of electricity. A vehicle to grid system may or may not exist in the future, but such cycling as described would certainly reduce battery lifetime, a cost that would need to be paid.

CO2 is not air pollution.

The Dark Lord
Reply to  Phil
May 20, 2020 6:00 am

CO2 is not air pollution

Reply to  The Dark Lord
May 20, 2020 6:19 am

Correct, it isn’t the point is that the headline is CO2 but there has been a similar reduction in pollution caused directly by ICE vehicles driving around the city and belching out noxious fumes. The cleaner air really goes to prove that if you had electric vehicles as the primary form of transportation in the city, just how clean the air can be.

Reply to  Phil
May 20, 2020 7:28 am

Now all you have to do is get rid of all the rest of the economic activity that creates the bulk of city pollution.

Reply to  Phil
May 20, 2020 7:48 am

The vast majority of air pollution from vehicles in London comes from diesel buses, trains and taxis. The very worst air pollution in London is on the underground trains, which are run by… ooh… electricity.

Reply to  Phil
May 20, 2020 7:25 am

So you are planning on draining the batteries of electric cars in order to provide overnight power.
What are the car owners supposed to do when they want to drive to work in the morning, and their car batteries are drained?
Regardless, according the electric car nuts, over night is when electric cars are supposed to be charging up for the next day.

Regardless, your claim that wind continues to blow overnight is sometimes true, but often not. Regardless, on average, winds as less overnight.

Reply to  Phil
May 20, 2020 7:27 am

More cycling of car batteries will shorten the life of those batteries, making an already uneconomic option even more expensive.

Reply to  MarkW
May 24, 2020 3:58 pm

@ MarkW the current generation of car batteries are capable of outlasting the car, Tesla’s newest batteries are expected to last over 1 MILLION kilometers.
It has been proven that keeping the level of charge between 20 & 90% slows down battery degradation to the point that many thousands of charge/discharge cycles can be obtained from a battery pack. Future battery designs will be using cheap & common materials as well.
So the future is electric, not oil.

B d Clark
Reply to  Phil
May 24, 2020 4:32 pm

Exactly what cheap and plentiful materials will batteries be using in the future?

M Courtney
Reply to  Phil
May 20, 2020 7:30 am

If you look at real figures you can see that the wind does not always blow, whether it’s night or day, land or sea.
This website gives the sources of the UK’s electricity at the moment. Have a look back and you will see that wind often drops below supplying the mighty 10% of our supply that it is currently managing.

Reply to  Phil
May 20, 2020 7:52 am

“The surplus solar harvested electricity will be dumped int the batteries of EVs that in the real world spend over 90% of their lives parked up then released back to the grid when needed. ”

You really have to live in Clown World to believe that people will be eager to utilize their expensive, limited-lifespan batteries to back up the failing National Grid which is only failing because of the introduction of so much unreliable power.

Reply to  MarkG
May 20, 2020 12:58 pm

In Phil’s world, they won’t be given a choice.

Roger Cole
Reply to  Phil
May 20, 2020 3:41 pm

When you get one of those big high pressure areas over northern Europe/Scandinavia the wind stops blowing whether or not it’s offshore and they can hang around for long periods sometimes too. Don’t forget that every time you move energy you lose a fair bit of it through systemic inefficiency. Looks as if you haven’t watched Michael Moore’s film, Planet of the Humans yet. You need to do so, it’s FREE, after all, on YouTube, no excuse not to.

I don't believe it!
Reply to  Phil
May 20, 2020 4:14 pm

Like the bit about solar electricity being “dumped” into the ev batteries. Just won’t be able to drive in the middle of the day.
The article proved nothing apart from how untrustworthy “funded climate scientist” are!

Reply to  Phil
May 24, 2020 5:34 pm

Phil. You truly are a poorly researched dreamer. Praise the Lord that there are rational people out there that are logical planners.

Reply to  Phil
May 24, 2020 5:46 pm

Phil. I am an avid ocean crossing sailor. I rely on solar panels to charge my batteries and wind to cross oceans. Son. I am telling you nobody travels across oceans without a Diesel engine and as much fuel as you can safely store. Sailors know the folly of relying on wind and sun for energy. It is a fact. All wind and solar needs fossil fuel nuclear or hydro to duplicate solar and wind generation.
If you were honest with yourself you would admit the folly of your theories. And Phil they are theories.

May 19, 2020 10:21 pm

“Fossil fuel emissions down 60% in London”

Very good news indeed.
Thank you.
Praise the climate science
And save the planet

Reply to  Chaamjamal
May 20, 2020 6:00 am

“Direct measurements of the emissions themselves are hence required but relatively few sites are equipped to do this, one being the BT Tower Atmospheric Observatory in London“
So what are BT’s measurement methods ? Why do they show the same drop in emissions as drop in traffic, when building heating requirements stayed “normal” ?…. Central London having many building heating loads, but existing traffic restrictions, and no “industrial” emissions, logically suggesting that CO2 emissions reductions would be much less than traffic reductions. What’s up with that?

Jim Ross
Reply to  DMacKenzie
May 20, 2020 7:09 am

Measuring CO2 concentration is fairly straightforward, but the estimation of emissions is based on “eddy covariance” techniques (, which does not sound much like “direct measurement” to me.

It also seems odd, to me at least, that the daily variations in emissions (rush hour etc) appear to be the direct opposite of the diurnal variations in CO2 concentration at the same location (as in atmospheric CO2 concentration drops every morning as the sun gets up and then rises again in the evening/night). I assume this may be partially due to nightime inversion, but it sure looks like local photosynthesis/respiration is significant factor. I have provided some links in comments further down the page.

Reply to  Jim Ross
May 20, 2020 9:03 am

You know what’s funny? To measure CO2 in air by IR spectroscopy, water interference has to be compensated for, usually by its removal. It seems there is too much IR overlap.

Reply to  Chaamjamal
May 21, 2020 2:35 am

From BBC:
But in the world’s tropical forest regions, it’s another story. Environmental agencies have reported an uptick in deforestation during lockdowns, as well as increases in poaching, animal trafficking and illegal mining worldwide. The trends are alarming, environmental experts say, and could be hard to reverse.

May 19, 2020 10:22 pm

This is quite a different result compared to the recently reported Mauna Loa atmospheric CO2 data, which appear to show no visible sign of a reduction in CO2 since the lockdowns began. Can someone please explain the difference?

Reply to  BoyfromTottenham
May 19, 2020 10:39 pm

AGW is falsified.

Reply to  BoyfromTottenham
May 19, 2020 11:05 pm

Central London is not the globe. It does not have power stations etc.

But again, this handwaving is useless unless people try to quantify how much x% reduction in emissions over a month or two is supposed to make to global ppm CO2. It isn’t going to make a visible difference.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
May 19, 2020 11:37 pm

Aww diddums.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Nick Stokes
May 20, 2020 12:57 am

A drop in CO2 emissions and diesel pollution occurred when London Transport bus drivers went on strike. So with this global drop of ~17% CO2 emissions why is there not a corresponding drop in temperatures?

Izaak Walton
Reply to  Patrick MJD
May 20, 2020 2:29 am

It is a drop in emissions not concentration. Current emissions are on track to raise temperatures between 1 and 4 degrees by the end of the century. A 4 degree raise corresponds
to 0.04 per year and so about 0.004 degrees per month and so a 17% reduction would mean
that the temperature rise this month would be about 0.0032 degrees rather than 0.004.
Which is well below the natural variability in the global average temperature.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Izaak Walton
May 20, 2020 2:51 am

That’s modelled temperatures.

Reply to  Izaak Walton
May 20, 2020 3:28 am

“Current emissions are on track to raise temperatures between 1 and 4 degrees by the end of the century.”


Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Izaak Walton
May 20, 2020 10:54 am

But, emissions (flux) affect concentration. If nothing else, a drop in emissions should drop the base-line and impact the end-of-century concentrations if the rate of change isn’t dependent on concentration.

Izaak Walton
Reply to  Izaak Walton
May 20, 2020 11:28 am

A drop emissions will eventually effect the concentrations but not
significantly after only a couple of months. Patrick was asking why
there is no immediate drop in temperatures and the answer to that is
that compared to the amount of CO2 already in the atmosphere a one month change in the emission level is tiny.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Izaak Walton
May 20, 2020 5:14 pm

“Izaak Walton May 20, 2020 at 11:28 am”

Yes but the theory is only ~3% of 0.04% of CO2 is causing dangerous warming. Yes that tiny!

Reply to  Nick Stokes
May 20, 2020 2:07 am

That’s true, but rather beside the point.

The object of the study is not to quantify the change in global CO2 levels, or any effect this might have on the climate. It is to provide ‘scientific’ support for net zero and the green agenda. “See – when the internal combustion engine is switched off, emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants fall. In years to come, when you leave the house you can’t afford to heat, after a vegan breakfast you never wanted to eat, and walk miles through the pouring rain to whatever job you are allocated to do, you can believe that you are doing your bit, and MAKING A DIFFERENCE!”

Reply to  Phil
May 20, 2020 3:19 am

yeah what a great opportunity to show how much better cutting even MORE things off would be for the overjoyed peopple of the UK
if it only dropped 60% they have to “sacrifice” more
guess that would be heating , gas/electricity as not much else was being used?
soon be at carbon zero and everyone can feel so proud..and sanctimonious

Reply to  Phil
May 20, 2020 6:16 am

Yes, eventually, toilet flushing declines and waste water pollution drops as people starve to death.

Reply to  BoyfromTottenham
May 19, 2020 11:46 pm

“BoyfromTottenham May 19, 2020 at 10:22 pm
This is quite a different result compared to the recently reported Mauna Loa atmospheric CO2 data, which appear to show no visible sign of a reduction in CO2 since the lockdowns began. Can someone please explain the difference?”

Two links below to that explanation, sir.

Bottom line: atmos composition is not responsive to fossil fuel emissions.

Reply to  Chaamjamal
May 20, 2020 12:10 am

From your link: “the attribution of rising atmospheric CO2 to emissions is without empirical support.”

We emit twice as much as needed to explain atmospheric concentration increase. Where do you think our emissions go Jamal?

Reply to  Loydo
May 20, 2020 12:24 am


Let me take a wild guess here.

Plant life?

But that would be too logical and not catastrophic enough for you, would it……….

Reply to  HotScot
May 20, 2020 12:48 am

Plant life? Yes, then it rots, so no.

Reply to  HotScot
May 20, 2020 9:43 am

Plant life? Yes, then it rots, so no.
You know the difference between day and nihgt ?
What are plants doing at night ?

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  HotScot
May 20, 2020 10:57 am

But phytoplankton that die drop to the bottom of the ocean and the potential CO2 is sequestered for at least several hundred years, maybe millions.

Reply to  HotScot
May 20, 2020 12:25 pm

Depending on the type of tree, that rotting could be decades, centuries or even close to a millenia in the future.

Reply to  Loydo
May 20, 2020 12:27 am

The answer is in the text of the post sir but here is a summary. Carbon cycle flows cannot be measured. They are inferred. These flows are an order of magnitude larger than fossil fuel emissions. Even their standard deviation is larger than fossil fuel emissions. Net of these uncertainties we can’t even detect the presence of fossil fuel emissions. If your monthly income from uncertain sources is $10,000 with an uncertainty range of plus or minus $1,000 and i promise to give you $100 next month will your income next month be higher than your income this month?

Reply to  Chaamjamal
May 20, 2020 1:10 am

So the increase from 280 to 417ppm is just a coincidence? How do you explain 13C/12C ratios start declining dramatically just as the CO2 starts to increase?

Reply to  Chaamjamal
May 20, 2020 1:44 am


Patrick MJD
Reply to  Chaamjamal
May 20, 2020 4:48 am

“Loydo May 20, 2020 at 1:10 am

So the increase from 280…”

Is an ESTIMATE. Do you know the difference between an estimate and a measure?

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Loydo
May 20, 2020 1:01 am

“Loydo May 20, 2020 at 12:10 am

We emit twice as much as needed…”

Care to explain how you came to this conclusion?

Reply to  Patrick MJD
May 20, 2020 7:31 am

By measuring the total amount of fossil fuels being burned in a year.

Reply to  Chaamjamal
May 20, 2020 12:25 am

Come on now fellas. You lot have been telling us to reduce emissions so the ppm in the atmosphere reduces and so “global warming” will be reduced to below 1.5 -2C.
Now we have world wide reduced emissions of CO2 by a huge percent but now this won’t reduce CO2 ppm and hence “global warming”
Fair dinkum you guys make it up as you go along.

Izaak Walton
Reply to  Rasa
May 20, 2020 2:32 am

You are confusing emissions and concentrations. If CO2 emissions reduce to zero then
CO2 concentrations would remain constant. Reduced emissions only slow the rise of
CO2 and associated temperature change.

Reply to  Izaak Walton
May 20, 2020 8:22 am

“CO2 concentrations would remain constant.”

No, they wouldn’t. They’d keep going down, as they have for millions of years.

The idea that everything in the world would be static without humans is just more ‘Gaia’ nonsense.

Reply to  BoyfromTottenham
May 19, 2020 11:46 pm

The answer is quite different! The reduction in air pollution is due to reduced particulate carbon, suphates and NOX emissions and nothing to do with CO2. Typically, at the BBC, their technically and scientifically illiterate science editor, when reporting this reduction to us, made no mention of the latter! He talks of reducing carbon but implies CO2.
In the UK, we reduced these real air pollutants from the 50’s onwards with the Clean Air Acts and later the Acid Rain reduction measures. We could have had far more reduced air pollution from 50 years ago or even earlier if we had converted to UK North Sea LNG fuelled cars, lorries train, and aircraft which emit only water vapour and CO2.

Reply to  BoyfromTottenham
May 20, 2020 1:38 am

London is not the world.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  François
May 20, 2020 7:32 am

Try telling that to Chelsea fans.

Reply to  BoyfromTottenham
May 20, 2020 8:21 am

BoyfromTottenham: this piece from The Guardian ( May 19th 2020) on their website answers your query. Note particularly the contents of the last paragraph – no actual sampling and laboratory assaying of CO2, but proxies and fudging.
Here’s the article:
Carbon dioxide emissions have fallen dramatically since lockdowns were imposed around the world due to the coronavirus crisis, research has shown.
Daily emissions of the greenhouse gas plunged 17% by early April compared with 2019 levels, according to the first definitive study of global carbon output this year.
The findings show the world has experienced the sharpest drop in carbon output since records began, with large sections of the global economy brought to a near standstill. When the lockdown was at its most stringent, in some countries emissions fell by just over a quarter (26%) on average. In the UK, the decline was about 31%, while in Australia emissions fell 28.3% for a period during April.
“This is a really big fall, but at the same time, 83% of global emissions are left, which shows how difficult it is to reduce emissions with changes in behaviour,” said Corinne Le Quéré, a professor of climate change at the University of East Anglia, and lead author of the study published in the journal Nature Climate Change. “And it is not desirable – this is not the way to tackle climate change.”
The unprecedented fall is likely to be only temporary. As countries slowly get back to normal activity, over the course of the year the annual decline is likely to be only about 7%, if some restrictions to halt the virus remain in place. However, if they are lifted in mid-June the fall for the year is likely to be only 4%.
That would still represent the biggest annual drop in emissions since the second world war, and a stark difference compared with recent trends, as emissions have been rising by about 1% annually. But it would make “a negligible impact on the Paris agreement” goals, Le Quéré said.
Emissions must fall to net zero by mid-century or soon after to meet the goals of the Paris agreement and keep global heating from reaching catastrophic levels, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The fall in carbon resulting from the Covid-19 crisis reveals how far the world still has to go, said Le Quéré.
The experience of the crisis so far has shown that changes in behaviour by individuals – such as not flying, working from home and driving less – can only go part of the way needed to cut emissions, as even the lockdown measures left the bulk of emission sources intact, she said, adding that bigger shifts are needed to the way people produce and use energy.
“Just behavioural change is not enough,” she said. “We need structural changes [to the economy and industry]. But if we take this opportunity to put structural changes in place, we have now seen what it is possible to achieve.”
Emissions from aviation showed a dramatic decline, of about 60%, as international flights between many countries were grounded. Emissions from surface transport fell less sharply, by about 36%. Power generation and industry accounted for about 86% of the total decline in emissions.
Despite such an unprecedented fall, the impacts on the climate are likely to be small. Stocks of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which reached 414.8 parts per million last year, will rise further towards the danger threshold of 450ppm this year, though perhaps at a slightly slower pace.
“Carbon dioxide stays in the air a long time, so although emissions are smaller, they are still happening and so carbon dioxide is still building up, just a little more slowly,” said Richard Betts, the head of climate impacts research at the Met Office Hadley Centre, who was not involved in the paper. “If we want to halt the build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, we need to stop putting it there altogether. It’s like we’re filling a bath and have turned down the tap slightly, but not turned it off.”
The lockdowns have caused steep falls in energy demand, but energy production has hardly been changed by the crisis, noted Mark Maslin, a professor of climatology at University College London, who was also not involved in the paper.
“The real lesson of this pandemic is that we must globally shift our energy production away from fossil fuels as quickly as possible if we are to ensure sustained year-on-year cuts to our global emissions,” he said. “The good news is that both of these will help to maintain the clean air and clear skies we have all rediscovered during lockdown, saving many lives.”
The comprehensive analysis was conducted by scientists from the University of East Anglia, Stanford University in the US, the Cicero Centre in Norway, as well as scientists in the Netherlands, Australia, France and Germany.
The researchers used measurements of economic activity, energy generation, industrial production, transport and other proxies to estimate carbon dioxide output. They concentrated their analysis on six areas: power generation, surface transport, industry, public buildings and commerce, residential sources, and aviation. Estimates were taken from 69 countries, 50 US states and 30 Chinese provinces, representing 97% of global carbon emissions.
Although the rising concentrations of carbon in the atmosphere are regularly measured, they are subject to large natural fluctuations so are unsuitable to the kind of snapshot analysis required to observe what is happening to global carbon output over a relatively short period.

B d Clark
May 19, 2020 10:27 pm

The BBC are pushing a similar story but global c02

If we look here there is no drop in c02

And here with a daily rise to 417.00 I can not see a 60% drop anywhere just a increase in c02 even though air flight motor transport has been curtailed world wide.

More lies yet again, do they really think people dont look for themselves.

Reply to  B d Clark
May 20, 2020 12:31 am

“I can not see a 60% drop anywhere just a increase in c02…”

You’re looking in the wrong place. This graph below is of annual increases – they fluctuate year to year but have generally been increasing resulting in an exponential rise in atmospheric concentration. At the end of the year you may see a slight reduction of the increase, although without statistical analysis even that might just be noise, but it will still probably rise by 2ppm+. In other words next year 417ppm will become 419.7 instead of 420.

You’re confusion is not surprising, in fact it is the desired result of these Covid/CO2 dog-whistling posts.

Reply to  Loydo
May 20, 2020 12:58 am

Waffle Loydo.
Since Henry Ford first rolled out his very first T Model Ford (Black Only) a hundred years ago CO2 in the atmosphere has been rising around 1 part per year out of 1,000,000 parts.
Now the climate alarmists tell us 100 -150 parts or so in the last 100-150 years or so will change the climate and we are doomed. So Loydo. A few facts.
It is not disputed 99% of the earths atmosphere is totally unrelated to “global warming”. Of the other other 1% CO2 is a miniscule component (water vapour by far being the most common greenhouse gas). CH4 is even more miniscule and is so miniscule it has to be measured in PPB not PPM (Billion Vs Million)
To get from ~400ppm to 800ppm (the threshold of “global warming” predictions will take around 300 to 400 years. I think we will have a non fossil fuel solution by then?
Anyhow take that increase in context with the safe working environment in US submarines where a safe level of CO2 is 3500ppm
CO2 in the earths atmosphere is incredibly stable considering
we now have 7,500, 000,000 people on the earth exhaling 40,000ppm of CO2
and back in Henry’s day we had maybe 1,500,000,000 people doing the same.
Sorry buddy. ‘global warming’ ‘science’ is BS

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Loydo
May 20, 2020 12:58 am

You still don’t understand what exponential means do you?

Reply to  Patrick MJD
May 20, 2020 6:01 am

Suppose Loydo could formulate the exponential function.

Chris Hanley
Reply to  Loydo
May 20, 2020 1:20 am

“… they fluctuate year to year but have generally been increasing resulting in an exponential rise in atmospheric concentration …”.
Since 2000 the overall trend looks linear:

Reply to  Chris Hanley
May 20, 2020 3:59 am

Take a look at the actual numbers at the link. There was a flat spot through the nineties but overall an exponential rise.

Reply to  Loydo
May 20, 2020 7:32 am

Linear, not exponential. Do you not know the difference?

Reply to  Loydo
May 20, 2020 2:50 pm

Linear is rising at a fixed x/year rate. Co2 is rising at an increasing rate – the yearly increase is rising. That is not linear. Maybe it is flattening recently, maybe Covid reductions will further slow the acceleration if economies stagnate, maybe not.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Loydo
May 20, 2020 5:18 pm

“Loydo May 20, 2020 at 2:50 pm”


Reply to  Loydo
May 20, 2020 8:53 pm

Nope what?

B d Clark
Reply to  Loydo
May 20, 2020 1:22 am

Loydo read the graph one is too date one is a daily figure neither show a drop in c02 a claimed 60% should see the graph dipping hugely you understand todate loydo obviously not.

Reply to  Loydo
May 20, 2020 1:42 am

“it is the desired result of these Covid/CO2 dog-whistling posts.”

Pity you won’t be able to assimilate what I’m talking about Loydo, but that’s almost as funny as your Dunning-Kruger effect post.

Here Loydo …….. fetch ……..

Richard (the cynical one)
May 19, 2020 10:34 pm

That would be 60% reduction in the emission of one of the most critically useful gases for the health of the planet and the feeding of the organisms on it. Including us humans. Maybe not so smart an idea.

Alexy Scherbakoff
May 19, 2020 10:45 pm

Breaking News! The sun doesn’t shine at night.

Howard Dewhirst
May 19, 2020 10:54 pm

The difference between shrinking human emissions and non-shrinking atmospheric CO2 could just be that, in the greater scheme of the global Carbon Cycle, human emissions don’t count for much? Or will it turn out that after homogenisation, atmospheric CO2 isn’t what it appears to be?

May 19, 2020 11:01 pm

So how does a person measure CO2 and CH4 emissions in London and compare them to emissions from previous years? Do they count buses and cars and people exhaling to estimate the amount of CO2 being emitted into the atmosphere?
The starting point I would have thought would be compare CO2 concentration in the atmosphere as is done at Cape Grim Tasmania Australia for the past 5 months ending ending 15th January, February, March, April and May.
If as this author tells us emissions are down 60% in London and probably down 60% world wide then the CO2 measured in Parts Per Million (ppm) would show a significant reduction.
Spoiler Alert. CO2 ppm in the atmosphere has continued to rise since the onset of COVID-19

Ian Magness
Reply to  Rasa
May 19, 2020 11:14 pm

To reinforce your point Rasa, I could understand if they stated that their measurements of CO2 concentration (perfectly possible) had showed a reduction but can any learned person reading this site explain exactly how they can “measure” CO2 emissions and compare the reading with other “measurements” from previous periods? Has this just been another modelling exercise using heroic assumptions biased toward the modeller’s intended answer?

Reply to  Ian Magness
May 19, 2020 11:37 pm

“Ian Magness May 19, 2020 at 11:14 pm
“explain exactly how they can measure CO2 emissions”

For each type of fossil fuel, natural gas, gasoline, diesel, kerosene, jet fuel, fuel oil, coal, etc there is a stochiometric relationship between weight burned and co2 emitted. So measure weights burned of each fossil fuel, convert, add. Voila!

Reply to  Ian Magness
May 20, 2020 12:29 am

Exactly and 100% correct. Ian you are way way way too logical for this world of “climate” “modelling”

Izaak Walton
Reply to  Rasa
May 19, 2020 11:34 pm

The details are at:

Basically they collect a fixed volume of air at regular intervals and measure the CO2 concentration in that volume. To be precise they measure the CO2 concentrations at the BT tower but that is a good approximation to the concentrations in the local area (i.e. London).

Jim Ross
Reply to  Izaak Walton
May 20, 2020 2:36 am

Yes, but be careful. The plot posted above is not CO2 concentration, it is estimated CO2 emissions. These are derived using eddy-covariance techniques and are not the same thing at all. In fact, atmospheric CO2 concentration does the exact opposite: it declines every morning as the sun comes up and the increases again in the evening. See figure 3c here:

Reply to  Rasa
May 20, 2020 12:52 am

Not down 60% worldwide but probably in major cities.
The drop in CO2 would be mirrored by drops in NOx and other nasties.

It illustrates why electric vehicles will be the future in major cities…not to combat CO2 “pollution” but to keep the air breathable in London, New York, Shanghai, Mexico City.
Outside of large cities EVs will be a bit of a joke.
And how and where the electricity is generated to run the EVs is another story altogether.

Reply to  GregK
May 20, 2020 1:48 am

….. are you seriously suggesting that electricity doesn’t just come out of a wall? What do you think those little sockets with three little holes in them are ….. jeeeeez.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  philincalifornia
May 20, 2020 11:09 am

I always thought that the holes were to let electricity to escape when there was an over-pressure. The outlets also help fresh air get into one’s house unless they are fitted with gaskets and plastic plugs.

Gerry, England
Reply to  philincalifornia
May 21, 2020 1:39 am

Greg means that the power to charge the batteries for the cars won’t necessarily be from wind or solar, or American trees chipped up and shipped to the UK for burning etc. In the Real World the conversion of the UK car fleet to battery powered is not possible as the mineral resources required are too great. It would also require the rebuilding of the majority of the distribution grid as the domestic grid can’t deliver the power required for rapid battery charging.

Reply to  GregK
May 20, 2020 6:13 am

Emission controls lower NOx at a greater level than efficiency controls have lowered CO2. What other “nasties” do you have in mind?

Eventually, additional controls are counterproductive, as you point out for rural locales.

Flight Level
May 19, 2020 11:44 pm

So it’s “Save the planet, kill yourself” time again ?

Time for some government (reich ?) to decide who lives and who pollutes ?

Time for our kids to get bomber type-ratings and fight for freedom before they even know how to side-park a car?

History has it all, just open the right page.

May 20, 2020 12:03 am

The IPCC theory suggests CO2 is a well-mixed gas in the atmosphere and increases temperature.

If there has been a decrease of 60% in CO2 in London, temperatures should be significantly lower. Yesterday 19th May 2020, the warmest place in the UK was at St James Park, central London (26.2 Deg C). A warm day for May.

Of course the launch of NASA OCO2 staellite in 2014 to monitor CO2 showed it is not well-mixed in the atmosphere. Also, for the last 22 years (from 7 million observations) there is no statistically significant correlation between temperatures and CO2 throughout the UK.

Their theory is bust!

Chris Hanley
May 20, 2020 12:28 am

With a 60% reduction in CO2 emissions level (as opposed to concentration), apart from all the workers laid off etc., the main losers are the gardens and trees.
If the urban CO2 dome over London reduced by 60% all the parks would begin to die off.
The urban CO2 dome over cities fluctuates diurnally and seasonally, this paper discusses the dome over Beijing:

Jim Ross
Reply to  Chris Hanley
May 20, 2020 3:29 am

Good link, Chris. Further to my comment above re the difference between (local) emissions and CO2 concentration, see figure 8 in Chris’ link. The same can be seen in other cities – I recall a paper about Mexico City for example and there are many others.

The diurnal variation of atmospheric CO2 is the same away from cities. See, for example: I always thought this was simply a reflection of photosynthesis/respiration. Is it different in cities?

May 20, 2020 12:56 am

Maybe this is the better link, Khun Loydo. Please take a look.

May 20, 2020 2:40 am

Yet no affect on temperature…..

Reply to  Matt_S
May 20, 2020 8:32 am


May 20, 2020 2:41 am

Its great isnt it? and reflect all around the world! the highly credible East Anglia University calls it an extreme reduction on emissions!! and the impact on global CO2 trends ?


That is how important “zero emissions” (when they are talking CO2) really is

Nick Graves
May 20, 2020 2:47 am

If CO2 emissions really dropped by ~60%, it would shirley suggest that many people stayed away from Smoke.

That is a frightening figure economically.

Perhaps like cars, people ought to be fitted with a stop/start function, so they don’t emit CO2 when idling/stationary. Oh, hang on…

Anders Rasmusson
May 20, 2020 2:50 am

In the atmosphere we can find 5,2*10^18 kg of air (29 kg/kmole) and 416 ppm of CO2 (44 kg/kmole).

The atmosphere is worldwide normally added 36*10^12 kg/year of CO2 from fossil fuel combustion and cement production.

The CO2 concentration in the atmosphere can be calculated to increase by 36/44/5,2*29*10^-6 = 4,5 ppm/year.

At Mauna Loa the measured increase is 2,5 ppm/year (0,21 ppm/month) so the rest is going to the sinks, 2,0 ppm/year.

Due to the lock down the atmos will instead be added let’s say 89 % worldwide of normal fossil fuels CO2, 0,89*4,5 = 4,0 ppm/year, but the sinks will still take 2 ppm/year out from the atmosphere.

Left in the atmos will be a 2 ppm/year increase instead of the normal 2,5 ppm/year. That difference will hardly be seen at Mauna Loa during a single month, 0,17 ppm/month instead of 0,21 ppm/month CO2 increase.

By a sudden 100 % reduction of the anthropocene CO2 emissions the sinks are still initially active at 2 ppm/year. At lower atmos CO2 concentration that figure will be much lower, 0 ppm/year at 280 ppm.

Let’s use 1,5 ppm/year as an average reduction figure going from
416 ppm to 348 ppm ==> (416-348)/1,5 = 45 years going half way down to 280 ppm at zero anthropocene emissions.

Kind regards
Anders Rasmusson

Reply to  Anders Rasmusson
May 20, 2020 9:09 am

And if at the same rate for another 45 years, most plant and animal life would cease. Our CO2 emissions therefore are life sustaining in actuality.

May 20, 2020 3:06 am

20 May: France24: AFP: Renewable energy should be at the heart of virus recovery plans: IEA
The International Energy Agency on Wednesday called on governments to put clean energy at the heart of their coronavirus economic recovery plans, as it forecast the first slowdown in new renewable power installations worldwide in two decades.
The IEA warned that lockdown measures — which at their peak affected more than half the world’s population — would have “far-reaching” consequences, as the world grapples with a crisis that has sent energy demand plummeting and threatens a deep economic contraction.

The agency, which had expected 2020 to be a bumper year for green energy, slashed its two-year forecast for growth in renewable capacity by nearly 10 percent…
Many countries have pledged to increase their use of renewables to meet tough climate targets and the IEA urged governments to redouble those efforts as they plan for post-virus economic recovery…

“Putting emissions into a structural decline needed renewables to grow much faster across all sectors even before the COVID-19 crisis,” the report said.
“To regain and exceed the growth rates seen in the years before the pandemic, policy makers need to put clean energy — including renewables and energy efficiency — at the centre of recovery efforts.”…

Experts said the crisis could provide an opportunity for green energy to permanently take the place of highly polluting fossil fuels like coal.
“We may come out of COVID with emissions going down, since renewables have been able to take more relative space, pushing out some of the worst of fossil fuels,” Glen Peters, Research Director, at the Center for International Climate Research told AFP.

Reply to  pat
May 20, 2020 3:25 am

Graphs are for people who do not understand numbers.
Actual records.
You can look at the fraudulent graph if you wish to be deceived. Go to the core data recorded for coming up for 50 years. 1ppm per year.
999,999/1,000,000 remain unchanged annually.

Reply to  Rasa
May 20, 2020 4:06 am

That is CH4 data not CO2.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Loydo
May 20, 2020 4:46 am

CH4 oxidises to CO2 quickly.

Ron Stabb
May 20, 2020 3:17 am

More meaningful measurements would be HC, NOx, and CO to see how effective vehicle emission controls are.

Nobody gave a shit about CO2 until Hansen came along.

Reply to  Ron Stabb
May 20, 2020 4:37 am

These may not be reported here, but the traffic reductions will most certainly mean cleaner air for all Londoners, they won’t notice the CO2 but they’ll notice the reductions in particulates, NOx etc.

Ron Stabb
Reply to  Phil
May 20, 2020 12:12 pm

Improved no doubt across major cities the world over but by how much? I would hope studies are being done on other than CO2.

Tom Abbott
May 20, 2020 4:11 am

From the article: “But Dr Nemitz says: “The fact that the reduction in CO2 emissions in central London almost exactly correlates with the reduction in traffic provides further evidence that vehicle emissions are a major source of CO2 in London, and that traffic is closely linked with other CO2-emitting activities such as the heating of shops and offices.”

Isn’t this just stating the obvious?

Reply to  Tom Abbott
May 20, 2020 6:19 am

It would seem so. Perhaps they should examine the reasons why it does not exactly correlate.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
May 20, 2020 9:08 am

“Isn’t this just stating the obvious?”

No. Because traffic also correlates with other things like, I don’t know, people going to work?

May 20, 2020 4:18 am

“The lockdown has significantly reduced London’s daytime population”

So, some of that missing CO2 was still produced, just not in London.

Nick Schroeder
May 20, 2020 5:18 am

By reflecting away 30% of the ISR the atmospheric albedo cools the earth much like that reflective panel behind a car’s windshield.

For the greenhouse effect to perform as advertised “extra” energy must radiate upwards from the surface. Because of the non-radiative heat transfer processes of the contiguous atmospheric molecules such ideal BB upwelling “extra” energy does not exist.

As demonstrated by experiment:

There is no “extra” energy for the GHGs to “trap” and “back” radiate and no greenhouse warming.

With no greenhouse effect what CO2 does or does not do, where it comes from or where it goes, is moot.

Equally moot are temperatures, ice caps, glaciers, polar bears, sea levels, hurricanes, nuclear power….

Nick Schroeder
May 20, 2020 6:16 am

Now for something completely different.

In his lecture notes of 1906-07 (published second edition in 1912) Max Planck made a couple of interesting observations about heat radiation: 1) objects/targets must be large compared to the wavelengths and 2) radiative and non-radiative heat processes are conjoined.
Max Plank observed that the object, particle, system, whatever being irradiated must be large in comparison to the wavelength of the radiation for energy transfer or interaction to occur.
For instance, atoms and molecules are comparable in size to gamma ray and X-ray wavelengths. Energetic interaction can be observed when such high energy rays ionize atoms and molecules.
But LWIR radiation has wavelengths much greater than atoms and molecules so there cannot be interaction or energy transfer.
LWIR simply passes through the atmospheric molecules with no interaction or heat transfer effect.
Planck also observed that radiation comes at the expense of other processes and only material particles can emit. (That EXCLUDES non-particulate atoms or molecules.)
Energy leaves a system/surface/particle/etc. through five primary heat transfer mechanisms: conduction, convection, advection, latent and radiation.
These five must sum to 1.0.
If one of them increases others must decrease.
For instance, a heating element losing energy to the contiguous atmosphere is cooling through conduction, convection and radiation.
If convection is accelerated with a small fan, i.e. advection, conduction or radiation must decrease.
Since the surface temperature of the heating element decreases with advection it is obvious that radiation’s share has decreased.

This has been demonstrated experimentally.

LWIR energy upwelling from the surface shares that heat load with the non-radiative processes and as a consequence cannot radiate BB.

1) GHGs cannot interact with nor “trap” nor “back” radiate LWIR
2) BB upwelling LWIR from the surface is not possible.

There is no “extra” energy for the GHGs and no GHG warming.

“Throughout the following discussion it will be assumed that the linear dimensions of all parts of space considered, as well as the radii of curvature of all surfaces under consideration, are large compared with the wave lengths of the rays considered.”
“According to the principle of the conservation of energy, emission always takes place at the expense of other forms of energy (heat, chemical or electric energy, etc.) and hence it follows that only material particles, not geometrical volumes or surfaces, can emit heat rays.”
Max Planck
“The Theory of Heat Radiation”

May 20, 2020 7:10 am

BBC sand others are claiming that the all the pain of the Covid Lockdowns only equate to a mere 17% of mans CO2 emissions – This clearly hasn’t been reflected or is lost in the background noise of the actual data at Muana Loa and therefore proves nature’s C02 totally controls and dictates atmospheric CO2 levels…
Thanks Covid for at least for killing the Manmade CO2 GW theory

May 20, 2020 7:21 am

London’s emissions may be down, but the emissions in the suburbs around London are up.

Steve Oregon
May 20, 2020 8:46 am

This will allow COVID to get credit, or blame, for a Dalton or Maunder minimum instead of the sun.

May 20, 2020 9:20 am

I notice they don’t shout about the much less reduction in particulates and Nox, the nasty stuff that might kill in the near future not alllegedly in some 30 years from now, or did Greta say CO2 was going to kill us all in 10 years time?
London is included in this analysis

May 20, 2020 10:24 am

Evil Britts-they are suffocating their plants!

Clyde Spencer
May 20, 2020 11:01 am

I’m not surprised that a major urban CO2 source is showing a decline because it hasn’t had a chance to be exposed to potential CO2 sinks. The important question is whether or not the average world-wide concentration, of what is a ‘well-mixed’ gas, can be demonstrated because London alone doesn’t potentially warm the world.

Jim Ross
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
May 21, 2020 2:46 am

I completely agree with you about needing to look at world-wide data on CO2 concentration away from local fluctuations. On your first point: estimated emissions are prior to exposure to natural sinks, as you say, but it seems to me that immediately any CO2 is released into the atmosphere, including in the middle of a city, it becomes part of, and indistinguishable from, the local natural CO2 variations which dominate the diurnal cycle seen in CO2 concentration. See, for example, figure 3c here:

So, despite the sudden influx of emissions every morning in the rush hour, the dominant charateristic of measured CO2 concentration is virtually the opposite, with it declining every morning as soon as the sun gets up due to local photosynthesis and increasing later in the day as the sun goes down and respiration becomes the dominant factor. As far as I can see, this diurnal CO2 cycle looks almost exactly the same in city centres as it does further away (e.g.

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