Impact and rebound of near real-time United States fossil fuel carbon dioxide emissions from COVID-19 and large differences with global estimates

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Kevin Robert Gurney, Bhaskar Mitra , Geoffrey Roest, pawlok dass, Yang Song, Taha Moiz


The COVID-19 pandemic has altered energy use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions globally and continues to evolve in the U.S. as the politics of COVID-19 change. Here we report on a new near-real-time fuel consumption data-driven, week-resolved estimate of national U.S. fossil fuel carbon dioxide (FFCO2) emissions, Vulcan-NRT. We explore the impact and rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic in the US. We find that the weekly total U.S. FFCO2 reached a maximum departure of -19.4% (-18.1%/-21.6%) during the week ending April 3, 2020, consistent with the initiation of state-scale COVID-19 lockdown orders. The total FFCO2 emissions decline for the sum of April and May, the two-month period with the largest persistent decline, was -15.7% (-14.2%/-17.7%), led by gasoline-fueled transportation (-29.4%), followed by electricity generation (-15.1%), aviation (-60.3%), and industrial activity (-8.5%). Since reaching its nadir in early April, U.S. total FFCO2 emissions have returned to pre-COVID levels. However, jet fuel consumption remains -16.0% below long-term weekly values for the April/May 2021 time period. We compare our fuel consumption-driven results to two previous global studies that use indirect proxy approaches. We find large disagreement in sector-specific FFCO2 emissions for the US suggesting that the use of indirect proxy data for estimating near-real-time GHG emissions may contain significant bias.



Social and Behavioral Sciences


climate change, COVID impacts, CO2 emissions, emissions mitigation, greenhouse gases


Published: 2021-04-20 11:36

Last Updated: 2021-07-07 18:13

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CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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