Planes are grounded, roads are empty, and businesses are shutting up shop. The world is slowing down and our footprint on this earth is temporarily lightening.
Right now, there are travel bans in place across the globe. In Europe all non-essential travel is suspended for 30 days, while individual countries are also enforcing their own restrictions. For example, Albania and Slovenia have suspended all flights, while Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark and Spain are all banning entry to UK travellers. Suffering badly from the COVID-19 virus, flights originating from China and Italy are being denied entry by most nations.
Governments are also advising people to work from home, and many firms are closing offices and retail stores. Consequently, there are far fewer people commuting – meaning fewer cars on the roads and less public transport running. The advice is changing rapidly but what is clear – is that there is less movement.
But what does this mean for the planet?
It is estimated that by the end of the year there will be 38% fewer flights across the globe - by mid-February alone more than 200,000 flights had been cancelled. Consequently there is reduced aviation emissions. Previously accounting for 2.5% of global carbon emissions, the outbreak is predicted to cause a drop in 2020 aviation emissions by several hundred million tonnes.
But emissions are also declining in manufacturing industries. Two weeks of lockdown in China resulted in a 25% reduction in energy use and emissions predominantly created by industrial production. While Bangladesh garment factories have reportedly lost close to $1.5billion in order cancelations forcing them to slow down production.
Satellite imagery of cities and industrial clusters in Asia and Europe comparing levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) from previous readings to current levels are also good indicators that greenhouse gas emissions across the globe are declining.
However, the true impact on global emissions from this standstill will only be clear once we are out the other side and have analysed all of the data. But it is incredibly unlikely to be enough to reverse global warming, or even avoid the 1C temperature increase that is projected to cause irreversible damage.
What we do know right now though is that although emissions may be temporarily declining illegal logging, deforestation, and plastic pollution are continuing. And with the eyes of enforcers focused on the global pandemic there is unlikely to be funding or attention directed towards protecting the environment. In fact, many organisations fear that the low impact movement will stall as individuals concentrate their energy on health and community causes.
This deadly virus may be having a profound impact on all aspects of life, including ours at Teddy Locks. But we exist to help fight the global climate and waste crises and we are not giving up. Because although socks are not a priority right now, we believe that the health of our planet will be a priority in due course.