Lockdowns lower CO2 as energy demand plummets

Written by Lori Campbell on 23rd Mar 2020

The coronavirus pandemic causes air pollution and carbon emissions across the globe to plummet as lockdowns slash energy demand. Meanwhile, a first-of-its kind sustainability calculator reveals a green grocery shop costs 87 per cent more, a new report shows investment banks continue to funnel trillions into fossil fuels and Chanel commits to halving its carbon emissions by 2030. It’s the Good With Money weekly news brief. 

Coronavirus pandemic causes carbon emissions to plummet

Levels of air pollution and warming gases are falling significantly in some cities and regions across the world as the coronavirus impacts work and travel.

The change was first detected by NASA and the European Space Agency, which released satellite images showing a significant reduction in nitrogen dioxide emissions (NO2) in Chinese cities between January and February. NO2 is released by cars, factories, and power plants, and remains close to where it is emitted.

According to data tracking company Tom Tom, in New York carbon dioxide (CO2) levels are estimated to be down 35 per cent compared with a year ago. Emissions of carbon monoxide in the city, mainly due to cars and trucks, fell by around 50 per cent last week according to researchers at Columbia University.

Scientists say that by May, when CO2 emissions are at their peak thanks to the decomposition of leaves, the levels recorded might be the lowest since the financial crisis over a decade ago.

How to protect your personal finances during the coronavirus outbreak


Global lockdowns slam energy demand

Global electricity demand is plummeting as schools, offices and shops close their doors and workers stay home to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

Power use in Italy slumped 7.4 per cent last week as the country struggled to cope with the rocketing number of people infected by the virus and the lockdown previously restricted to the north was expanded.

Italy’s experience provides “some insight as to how power demand might be affected across the rest of Europe if the virus continues to spread at its current rate,” BloombergNEF analyst Tom Rowlands-Rees wrote in a report.

A broad economic slowdown is becoming more likely as millions of people stay home, slashing the need for electricity in offices, theatres, restaurants and other public places.

“We would expect to see demand look more like a weekend,” said Adam Jordan, an analyst at the U.S. energy research company Genscape. In China, carbon emissions have plummeted about 25 per cent since quarantines began, said Daniel Grunwald, a U.S-based analyst at Morningstar Inc.

Green groceries cost 87% more

A first-of-its-kind calculator designed by financial experts reveals an environmentally friendly grocery shop costs 87 per cent more than a traditional alternative.

The Sustainable Living Calculator takes into consideration the type of food you buy, whether you shop with bags for life, if you use reusable drinks cups, the type of energy your house uses and how you travel.

A family of four which ‘goes green’ on their grocery shop ends up paying around £5,915 per year based on 20 everyday household items.

This is almost £2,000 – or 87 per cent – more than a non-organic supermarket alternative.


6 symbols for planet-conscious shopping

Global banks failing on climate crisis by funnelling trillions into fossil fuels

The world’s biggest investment banks have poured more than £2.2 trillion into fossil fuels since the Paris Agreement, new figures show.

US bank JP Morgan Chase, whose economists warned that the climate crisis threatens the survival of humanity last month, has been the largest financier of fossil fuels in the four years since the agreement. It has provided over £220 billion of financial services to extract oil, gas and coal.

Barclays, which has been under increasing investor pressure over its environmental stance, has been the top European financier of fossil fuels in the last four years.

Analysis of the 35 leading global investment banks, by an alliance of US-based environmental groups, said that financing for the companies most aggressively expanding in new fossil fuel extraction since the Paris Agreement has surged by nearly 40 per cent in the last year.

Fossil fuels an increasing risk for investors

Chanel sets 100% renewable energy and 1.5C targets

Luxury fashion and fragrance giant Chanel has committed to halve its carbon emissions by 2030, under a new 1.5C-aligned set of sustainability targets.

The new commitment has been approved by the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) in line with the Paris Agreement’s more ambitious trajectory.

Chanel has pledged to source 100 per cent renewable electricity for its global operations by 2025. The company sourced 41 per cent of its electricity consumption from renewable sources in 2019 and expects this to hit 97 per cent by the end of 2021. It will achieve this by investing in a mix of onsite arrays, new tariffs and Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs).

Its new targets include reducing supply chain emissions by 40 per cent by 2030, from a 2018 baseline.


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