What is the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on global carbon emissions? Academic Article uri icon


  • The coronavirus 2019 (COVID 19, or SARS-CoV-2) pandemic that started in December 2019 has caused an unprecedented impact in most countries globally and continues to threaten human lives worldwide. The COVID-19 and strict lockdown measures have had adverse effects on human health and national economies. These lockdown measures have played a critical role in improving air quality, water quality, and the ozone layer and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Using Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) Level 4 carbon (SMAP LC4) satellite products, this study investigated the impacts of COVID-19 lockdown measures on annual carbon emissions globally, focusing on 47 greatly affected countries and their 105 cities by December 2020. It is shown that while the lockdown measures significantly reduced carbon emissions globally, several countries and cities observed this reduction as temporary because strict lockdown measures were not imposed for extended periods in 2020. Overall, the total carbon emissions of select 184 countries reduced by 438Mt in 2020 than in 2019. Since the global economic activities are slowly expected to return to the non-COVID-19 state, the reduction in carbon emissions during the pandemic will not be sustainable in the long run. For sustainability, concerned authorities have to put significant efforts to change transportation, climate, and environmental policies globally that fuel carbon emissions. Overall, the presented results provide directions to the stakeholders and policymakers to develop and implement measures to control carbon emissions for a sustainable environment.

published proceedings

  • Sci Total Environ

altmetric score

  • 4.85

author list (cited authors)

  • Ray, R. L., Singh, V. P., Singh, S. K., Acharya, B. S., & He, Y.

citation count

  • 12

complete list of authors

  • Ray, Ram L||Singh, Vijay P||Singh, Sudhir K||Acharya, Bharat S||He, Yiping

publication date

  • April 2022