Jean-Philippe Bonardi, Quentin Gallea, Dimitrija Kalanoski, Rafael Lalive, Raahil Madhok, Frederik Noack, Dominic Rohner, Tommaso Sonno, 21 June 2021

A belief that the environment rebounded during Covid-19 lockdowns is widespread. This column uncovers a more complex reality. Though domestic and international lockdowns prompted a 35–45% reduction in pollution, air quality effects across the world were unequal. When restrictions were placed on some economic activities (transport and industry), people shifted to others (domestic energy). Reductions in economic activities degrade the environment in countries where domestic energy is the largest source of pollution, and policies aimed at combatting climate change must account for such diverse outcomes.

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