The measures against the spread of the new Coronavirus (Covid-19), and the shutdown of industrial activity in many Chinese cities have had a positive impact on China’s air quality, new satellite data shows.
Nitrogen oxide pollution above major cities has decreased by 30% to 50% compared to the corresponding period of last year, according to data from the Tropospheric Monitoring Instrument (Tropomi) onboard the European space agency’s Sentinel-5 Precursor satellite.
The impact is visible throughout the country.
China has been consuming less fossil fuel due to the Covid-19 epidemic. Nitrogen dioxide emissions are usually lower during the holidays after the Chinese New Year. This year, however, the drop began earlier. It has accelerated and has also lasted longer, the Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy reported on Tuesday.
Nitrogen dioxide concentrations above the cities of Wuhan and Nanjing were comparable to 2018 levels when the first cases of the virus were reported in late 2019. By the end of December, the pollution above Wuhan, the epicentre of the epidemic, was already down.
After the Chinese New Year holidays in early 2019, pollution levels had already begun to go back up by February. This year, however, they have remained low more than one month after the New Year holidays.
Since mid-January, many Chinese cities have been quarantined due to the Covid-19 virus. Production levels have been low for many weeks in many industrial towns.