World, Environment

Global environmental developments in March 2020

Month sees significant drops in air pollution due to coronavirus outbreak-related measures worldwide

Burak Bir   | 01.04.2020
Global environmental developments in March 2020


March saw falling carbon emissions due to drops in industrial production and transportation use amid nationwide lockdowns across the world as well as bans on wildlife consumption to curb the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The European Commission also released its long-awaited European Climate Law, the legal translation of the EU's political commitment to be climate neutral by 2050.

The following is a look at environmental developments, reports, events and stories during the month.

March 1:

- New Zealand's national retirement savings program KiwiSaver announces it will divest from fossil fuels, which will take effect in July 2021.

March 2:

- Air pollution causes shortening of people’s lifespan worldwide on a scale far bigger than wars, violence, tobacco, and diseases such as HIV and AIDS, according to a study released by the Journal of Cardiovascular Research.

- The New South Wales Rural Fire Service in Australia announces that for the first time since early July 2019, there are currently no active bush or grass fires in New South Wales after more than 240 days of fire activity for the state.

March 3:

- World Wildlife Day is celebrated under the theme of “Sustaining all life on Earth.”

- U.K.’s CO2 emissions fall by 2.9% in 2019, bringing the total reduction to 29% over the past decade, according to analysis from the Carbon Brief website.

- Called the “Forest Man of India,” activist Jadav Payeng is named for commonwealth award for his efforts toward environmental conservation.

March 4:

- European Commission releases long-awaited European Climate Law to make Europe’s economy and society climate neutral by 2050

- Coronavirus temporarily reduces China’s CO2 emissions by a quarter as electricity demand and industrial output remain far below their usual levels, according to an analysis released by Carbon Brief.

March 5:

- China seizes more than 20 tons of smuggled wildlife products and arrests 12 suspects over illegal wildlife trade.

- An unidentified outbreak has led to the deaths of nearly 1,000 vultures in Guinea Bissau, according to the Vulture Conservation Organization.

March 6:

- The UN’s climate body postpones the forthcoming Africa Climate Week 2020 amid growing concerns over the coronavirus.

March 9:

- At least 5,000 koalas (12% of the population) die in Australia’s New South Wales state during the 2019-2020 wildfires, according to a study released by the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

- Vietnam is planning to ban wildlife trade and consumption due to the deadly novel coronavirus outbreak.

- New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham officially signs the Wildlife Trafficking Act, which prohibits wildlife trafficking in the state.

March 10:

- World Meteorological Organization releases the State of Global Climate Report 2019 which indicates that greenhouse gas concentrations continued to rise last year with no signs of a slowdown so far in 2020.

- Both the Arctic and Antarctica saw below mean sea ice cover in the last month compared to the 1981-2010 average, according to Copernicus Climate Change Service, Europe’s climate body.

- Extremely rare white giraffe and her calf are killed by poachers in northeastern Kenya.

March 12:

- 11th Sustainable Ecosystem Days organized by students of Istanbul Technical University Environmental Engineering Club suspended over coronavirus outbreak.

March 16:

- Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution in northern Italy falls dramatically following a nationwide lockdown to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak, according to the European Space Agency.

- Replenishing and protecting the world’s soil carbon stores could help offset up to 5.5 billion tons of greenhouse gases annually, according to a study released by Carbon Brief.

- National pension fund AP1 becomes the first pension fund in Sweden to divest all its holdings in fossil fuel companies.

March 19:

- The population of African Black Rhino, a critically endangered species, slowly increases as conservation efforts counter the persistent threat of poaching, according to IUCN.

- Earth Hour observed online for the first time since its inception in 2007 due to the COVID-19 outbreak, its global organizing team announces.

- Microplastics are generated even when opening plastic packaging, according to a report published on Scientific Reports website.

March 21:

- International Day of Forests, designated by the UN in 2012 and celebrated annually, is observed around the world.

March 22:

- Climate change-related results continue to affect the earth's water resources and quality, according to the UN World Water Development report published on the occasion of World Water Day.

- Annual World Water Day, which is about water and climate change and how the two are inextricably linked, is celebrated around the world.

- The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal is marked on the 31st anniversary of its signing.

March 23:

- World Meteorological Day, which takes place annually to celebrate the establishment of the World Meteorological Organization in 1950, is observed globally.

March 24:

- Powerful parties in China such as State Grid Corporation of China and the China Electricity Council lobby to get a green light to build hundreds of new coal-fired power plants ahead of the country’s 14th Five-Year Plan, according to an analysis released by Carbon Brief.

- In its February report, German-based search engine Ecosia announces it has “planted” nearly 1 million trees in Brazil, Burkina Faso, and Tanzania in the last month.

March 25:

- A 36% decline in air pollution in Istanbul during parts of March is clear evidence that the measures taken against the coronavirus increase air quality, according to a Turkish expert in atmospheric science and air quality.

March 26:

- The outbreak of SARS, Ebola and now COVID-19 once again shows the immediate need to permanently close wildlife markets to prevent further zoonotic diseases, wildlife advocate group WildAid says.

- Air pollution in some parts of the U.K. is halved on the first day of the lockdown to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an analysis released by Air Quality News.

March 27:

- 70% of emerging infectious diseases that the world faces, including COVID-19, came out of the natural environment, says senior WHO scientist Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum.

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