How the Covid-19 pandemic has positively affected the environment

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The pandemic is good. At least to the environment. Among the enormous tragedies that Covid-19 has brought about in terms of suffering and loss of human lifein fact, a fact emerges, not unexpected, but certainly of great importance, above all given the alarm regarding climate change and the negative consequences that this entails on human life: the slowing down of economic activities and the cooling of the displacements has led to a notably lower emission of climate-altering substances into the atmosphere.

According to the data processed by Istat, the National Institute of Statistics, which released the indicators for the years 2018-2020, in the first year of the pandemic the main pressure indicators of environmental accounts in fact, they decreased substantially compared to the previous 24 months. Against a -9% drop in GDP, net energy consumption stood at 6.5 million terajoules (-8.8%), climate-changing emissions at 392 million tonnes (Mt) of CO2 equivalent (-10.2%); internal material consumption at 459 Mt (-7.7%). The reduction in the revenue of the is more marked environmental taxes which drop to 50.4 billion euro (-13.5%). In the same year, the value of the goods and services that the economy produces for environmental protection decreased, falling to 104 billion (-3.8%) while spending on environmental protection remained stable at 43 billion. Add to this the fact that the provisional estimates for 2021 indeed show a recovery in emissions of CO2 and other climate-altering gases compared to 2020 (+6.2%), but with levels that do not reach those of the pre-pandemic period, confirming the tendency to reduction which is observed starting from 2008 (-28.7% in the entire period 2008-2021).

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Istat has released a report on the main economic indicators for the two-year period 2018-2020, which show a reduction in pressure on the environment

The Istat report shows that the overall energy requirement for production and consumption activities is reduced due to the fall in economic activity and travel restrictions, while the overall contraction in energy consumption was affected by that of production activities by 416 thousand terajoules (-8.5%). In the dynamics of energy consumption of families, on the other hand, the reduction in transport clearly prevails (189 thousand terajoules, -20.9%) due to closures and the widespread adoption of remote working. Consumption in domestic environment, for heating and other purposes, recorded a decrease of 19 thousand terajoules (-1.5%). Among the production activities, the services sector as a whole (Ateco GS), with 226 thousand terajoules less, contributed more than the other sectors to the contraction in energy consumption, also recording the greatest percentage reduction between 2019 and 2020 (- 13.2%). The activity that saw the greatest reduction, in both absolute terms (about -80 thousand terajoules) and percentages (-62.8%) is that of air transport (Ateco 51). The only exceptions are activities that have played a role of fight against the pandemic crisis, such as health services (Ateco 86, +21.2%), public administration (Ateco O, +9.9%) and scientific research (Ateco 72, +4.4%). In the industrial sector (Ateco BF), it is above all the contraction of manufacturing (Ateco C, -123 thousand terajoules, equal to -6.8%) affecting the overall decline of energy consumption (-189 thousand terajoules, -6.2%), even if in percentage terms the most pronounced reduction concerns the extractive industry (Ateco B -8.2%).

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The article is in Italian

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