The ongoing coronavirus pandemic may be delivering an unexpected boost in the fight against climate change, according to figures released by Scottish tech startup Pawprint.
As the country continues its enforced lockdown, the company said it has studied the impact this is having on harmful CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) emissions – and the findings offer a glimmer of hope.
A reduced number of aircraft in the skies above the UK, combined with essential only road travel, could result in a reduction of over 80 million tonnes in carbon emissions this year. This would be equivalent to a 9% drop in the annual footprint for every person in the country.
The average carbon footprint for a UK citizen stands at 13.1 tonnes per year, which is the equivalent to driving 25,000 miles (or around the world) in a diesel car. It has been widely recognised that if people living in developed countries reduced this to 10 tonnes per year, it would make a significant difference in tackling global warming.
Already, restrictions on day-to-day activities around the world are having an immediate environmental impact; road congestion has reduced significantly and smog has lifted in a host of major cities.
Although transportation may be one of the key drivers of harmful CO2e emissions, there are other areas where changes can be introduced to make a huge difference, including changes to diet, reducing waste and meat intake, turning down heating in homes and choosing showers rather than baths.
Additionally, Pawprint suggested that small changes to shopping habits – such as buying second hand, borrowing or mending – can have a significant positive impact.
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Christian Arno, founder of Pawprint, said that despite the disruption, this lockdown presents an opportunity for people to better understand their environmental impact and make positive changes.
“The immediate threat from coronavirus has prompted behavioural change at an incredible global scale, and on our travel more than any other aspect of our carbon footprints. We’re hoping that some of the new behaviours we’re learning – reduced travel, more video conferencing and more people cycling – will become embedded,” he said.
“With everyone finding themselves with more time at home, it’s also a good chance to understand what other areas of our lives have a significant impact on our ‘Pawprints’ and making the most of what we have,” he added.