Satellite-based estimates of decline and rebound in China’s CO₂ emissions during COVID-19 pandemic

WashU affiliated authors: Randall V. Martin and Jun Meng (Dept. of Energy, Environmental, and Chemical Engineering)

Abstract: Changes in CO2 emissions during the COVID-19 pandemic have been estimated from indicators on activities like transportation and electricity generation. Here, we instead use satellite observations together with bottom-up information to track the daily dynamics of CO2 emissions during the pandemic. Unlike activity data, our observation-based analysis can be independently evaluated and can provide more detailed insights into spatially-explicit changes. Specifically, we use TROPOMI observations of NO2 to deduce ten-day moving averages of NOx and CO2 emissions over China, differentiating emissions by sector and province. Between January and April 2020, China’s CO2 emissions fell by 11.5% compared to the same period in 2019, but emissions have since rebounded to pre-pandemic levels owing to the fast economic recovery in provinces where industrial activity is concentrated.

Citation: Zheng, Bo, Guannan Geng, Philippe Ciais, Steven J. Davis, Randall V. Martin, Jun Meng, Nana Wu et al. “Satellite-based estimates of decline and rebound in China’s CO2 emissions during COVID-19 pandemic.” arXiv preprint arXiv:2006.08196 (2020).