The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an abrupt and dramatic reduction in human activities, with significant effects on energy consumption and associated CO2 emissions. Little is known about these reductions and the rebound in emissions for various sectors in France at the regional level since the start of 2020. Likewise, annual national inventories of energy and fossil fuel consumption are only available with a lag of one year, unsuitable for estimating the impacts of Covid-19 on daily and monthly scales. In fact, there is no regularly updated daily scientific data to meet the high demand for information on emissions from policymakers, the media and the general public.
However, CITEPA recently developed, with the support of the French Ministry of the Environment in 2020, a new ex-post estimate of monthly CO2 emissions in France. This is based on monthly statistics, in particular energy statistics (the monthly barometer of French national emissions), which will be updated over time with a lag of 3 months.
The Carbon-Monitor solution
An international team of scientists has developed the CARBON-MONITOR research initiative around new algorithms for processing activity data in near-real time (GPS movements, consumption of natural gas and electricity production, etc.) to produce a first estimate of daily broadcasts from each country, updated monthly, with public access to data on the website https://carbonmonitor.org.
These estimates can be greatly improved (i) by automating the processing algorithms to achieve an almost daily update, (ii) by incorporating remote sensing data, in particular for variations in emissions from industrial sites and thermal power stations, and (iii) by systematically and automatically comparing the CARBON-MONITOR estimates with the more precise 3-month data provided by CITEPA.
Evaluate today and anticipate tomorrow
It is now accepted that the activities of major economic sectors, such as air transport and tourism, will suffer the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic for several years. More subtle changes are also expected, for instance concerning mobility behaviours, given the rapid development of teleworking and the decrease in commuting. It can also be assumed from short-term forecasts that the consumption of electricity and fossil fuels by industry is likely to remain low, linked to a likely lasting drop in GDP in various regions.
In a context of green recovery driven both at the French level by the post-Covid-19 recovery plan and at the European level by the Green Deal, monitoring CO2 emissions is crucial to ensure their effectiveness. In this regard, C-MONITOR France will for the first time provide an estimate of CO2 emissions and their daily variability across territories (regions). This exercise could be accompanied by a quarterly verification via an expert audit of CITEPA, making it possible to highlight the points to be questioned and explored, seeking to assess the uncertainties and proposing avenues for improvement.
In summary, C-MONITOR supports the political actions implemented at European and national levels by providing an operational service for monitoring GHG and pollutant emissions at the finest spatial and temporal scale possible. This service is based on a set of knowledge and scientific validation processes combining remote sensing data and economic activity. In addition, a third-party audit allows the systematic verification of these results in comparison with data from the barometer of national monthly emissions from CITEPA, and French statistics.
Territories for experimentation
- Centre Val de Loire
- Nouvelle Aquitaine
. visible and near infrared data for the detection of specific objects (monitoring of industrial sites and thermal power stations for CO2 emissions);
. near infrared detection to capture CO2 emissions from main thermal power plants.
- Sentinel-1: radar data to demonstrate the feasibility of tracking changes in road traffic.
- Mobility, via TomTom indices or location by mobile phone applications;
- National and regional electricity consumption;
- Air traffic Flight radar 24 for each airport.
Results - Final products
The tool and service offered by C-MONITOR France consist in providing, on an operational basis and in near real time, an estimate of fossil CO2 emissions for five emitting sectors - land and air transport, electricity production, industry , buildings - by combining spatial remote sensing data and real-time sector activity data available. These data and methods are described in the article Near-real time monitoring of global CO2 emissions reveals the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, published in Nature Communications by Zhu Liu, Philippe Ciais et al, 14 October 2020.
The C-MONITOR France tool could in particular be used to understand (i) on the one hand, the changes in air quality resulting from the use of fossil fuels, and (ii) on the other hand, the impact changes in mobility linked to the epidemic and its consequences on changes in energy demand - in particular the change in the diurnal cycle of electricity demand that occurred during the confinement episodes.
For emissions from the industrial sector, it is planned to develop an emissions change index based on high-resolution spatial imagery data from Sentinel-2 satellites for each industrial sector (refining, cement works, steelworks) and for each French region. This index will help track emissions during the economic downturn following the end of the epidemic.
- t0: start of the project (TRL5)
- t0 + 6m: identification of emission data, including local, and negotiation with public and private operators
- t0 + 12m: first model of the service in demonstration mode (TRL6)
- t0 + 24m: tests and improvements after user feedback, validation in pre-operational mode (TRL7)