UCC study reveals impact of lockdown on air pollution and home energy usage 

UCC study reveals impact of lockdown on air pollution and home energy usage 

Pollution from cars has dropped by 50 per cent in recent weeks 

POLLUTION from cars has dropped by 50 per cent in recent weeks while our electricity usage now replicate the weekend patterns every day.

That’s according to a new study by researchers at MaREI research centre in University College Cork (UCC), which provides an insight into the impact of restrictions introduced to reduce the spread of COVID-19 on Ireland’s energy related pollution levels.

The study examined Ireland's pollution levels prior to the introduction of the restrictions and compares it with those levels during lockdown.

It shows that pollution from cars has dropped by 50 per cent.

However, air pollution from solid fuel burning has not changed.

The researchers point out how nine out of 10 flights have been cancelled since restrictions commenced.

They say that assuming flight restrictions last for 12 weeks, and that there will be another 12 weeks with partial recovery, this could result in a reduction of 1 MtCO2 of heat trapping gases this year; the equivalent of switching off Moneypoint coal fired power station for six months.

The demand for electricity has seen a decrease of between 5-10 per cent over seasonal expectations since early March as a result of the COVID-19 measures, however, the generation profile now replicates a weekend demand profile seven days a week, it said.

Dr James Glynn, one of the UCC based researchers involved in the project said that the COVID-19 lockdown measures across the globe are creating a “natural experiment for climate and energy researchers to observe how extreme demand scenarios can drive large scale fossil fuel demand destruction and collapse oil market prices” 

He added: “By exploring the impact these restrictions are having on Ireland’s pollution levels, we are also seeking to understand feasible actions to mitigate climate change.”

Dr Glynn said: “We need to make long-term, equitable and sustainable changes to our lifestyles, to our economy and to our energy system.

“Climate change mitigation is a marathon event requiring rapid and sustained steady changes in how we consume energy,” he added.

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