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Since the outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID_19), many countries have taken measures to reduce the spread of the pandemic by closing their borders and going into lockdown. It is evident how these new stricter rules, including restrictions on any kinds of social gatherings, outings and travel have gravely affected major cities across the globe. But how have these changes led to differences in carbon emission rates?
In 'The city that never sleeps', New York, the streets have become empty as traffic is reduced by government advice to work from home. As a result of reduced vehicle use, estimated to be down 35% compared with a year ago, air pollutants and greenhouse gasses are now hugely declining. Carbon monoxide levels (mainly from vehicles) are now also being reduced by nearly half compared with this time last year. There have also been clear evidence that since the outbreak, the planet-heating gas CO2 is also falling drastically.
China and Northern Italy are two other areas that have been put on lockdown, resulting in very similar trends in the reduction of air pollution rates to that of New York. These two areas have experienced a major depletion in nitrogen dioxide (air pollutant and a powerful warming chemical) which is a gas proven to be most commonly sourced from industrial activity and journeys in vehicles. Data shown on the climate website CARBON BRIEF shows the energy use in China has fallen by a quarter over two weeks resulting in an overall fall of 1% in carbon emissions this year.
Another affect the lockdown zones are experiencing is that local wildlife is now encroaching into towns and cities due to the reduce foot and vehicle traffic. Italy, Japan and Thailand have all seen examples of animals roaming the streets of usually busy neighbourhoods, including in the bustling city of Nara, Japan. The past few weeks have seen the residents of Nara welcome a new kind of visitor into their community, the Sika Deer.
Usually, the many tourists and already big population of residents in Nara keep the deer away from the main town, but that's all changed.
Another area of Thailand, Lopburi has seen an influx of starving monkeys.
Italy being one of the first few areas to enter a severe lockdown, has seen a bounty of out-of-place animals exploring their towns. So far there have been reports of wild horses, sheep and boars replacing the usually obvious sea of tourists and civilians.