As the world’s second-largest economy is slowly reopening, so are the smog-churning factories of the industrialized nation. From the new data released by the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air (Crea), it can be seen that air pollution levels in China are back to pre-pandemic levels, and Europe might be reaching those levels very soon.
According to the research, the number of fine particles (PM2.5) and Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) in the air are now back to the same concentration as they were a year prior, before the lockdown had gone into effect. During the lockdown, China’s NO2 level had decreased by 38% and PM2.5 by 34%.
“The rapid rebound in air pollution and coal consumption levels across China is an early warning of what a smokestack industry-led rebound could look like,” said lead analyst at Crea, Lauri Myllyvirta. “Highly polluting industries have been faster to recover from the crisis than the rest of the economy. It is essential for policymakers to prioritise clean energy.”
In addition to China, European cities also saw a large reduction in the amount of air pollutants. Data showed that as many as 42 out of 50 major European cities recorded lower air pollution during lockdown, with cities such as London and Paris averaging 30% lower pollutant levels. However, with Europe soon set to reopen its economy, this breath of fresh air is expected to be rather short-lived.