Economists find commuting is the only driving category to remain diminished.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an unprecedented shift in commuting and mobility patterns worldwide, something that has led to a false perception that the pandemic may be a boon to greenhouse gas reduction. A new analysis examines California’s GHG emissions before and after the viral outbreak and finds that despite significantly less road traffic in the state, long run emissions reductions are not likely to result from the crisis.
The report, released today by the UCR School of Business Center for Economic Forecasting and Development, finds that while there will probably be a long term reduction in commuting to and from work as some workers shift permanently to online or work-from-home arrangements, the resulting reduction in GHG emissions will be small – estimated at just 2.4% in California. This metric is based on a number of factors including the relatively low share of wage and salary workers who can permanently perform their jobs from home, and the equally low share of GHG emissions that are attributable to commuting and passenger vehicles in general.
“When you add it all up, despite the startling and massive drop off we’ve seen in on-road vehicle traffic in recent months, the pandemic is not going to lead to a substantial decrease in GHG emissions over the long term in California or the nation at large,” said Hoyu Chong, Senior Researcher at the Center for Forecasting and the report’s author. “Although we will see a large decrease in GHG emissions from passenger vehicles in 2020, it’s a short-term effect.”
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