Aarushi Roy

An Unintended Outcome of the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Case Study of Aviation Carbon Dioxide Emission

The burning of fossil fuels and deforestation are primarily responsible for increased concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) and resulting in climate change which has severe adverse effects on society. Therefore, the reduction of CO2 in the atmosphere is important. The COVID-19 pandemic and the associated lockdowns throughout the world have caused an immense amount of human and economic loss, and have had a significant impact on industries like the sharp reduction in air travel. The decrease in air travel has led to a substantial fall in the emission of CO2 which is released when an airplane burns fuels. This study aims to investigate if carbon dioxide emissions released by air travel have been reduced significantly due to the COVID-19 pandemic and assess whether or not pandemic reductions in aviation carbon dioxide have altered global or local temperatures. This research also investigates if the magnitude of reduction in emissions is the same across OECD and non-OECD countries, and ascertain the reduction in each of the 96 most CO2 emitting countries’ carbon footprints due to reduction in air travel. Lastly, this research study attempts to discuss some ways to reduce the climate impacts of air travel. It is observed that although air travel decreased dramatically due to the pandemic, the reduction in carbon dioxide emitted by air travel is not enough to affect global temperature significantly. Thus, we infer that policies focusing on more carbon-intensive sectors than the aviation industry will be quite effective in reducing global CO2 emissions.