MOSCOW: Lockdowns implemented across Europe to curb the spread of COVID-19 have caused 11,000 fewer air pollution deaths over a 30-day period as oil and coal consumption have dropped dramatically across the continent, the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) said in a report on Thursday.
According to CREA, coal power generation and oil consumption have fallen by roughly a third in Europe over the preceding 30 days, as passenger planes have been left grounded by the lockdown measures and businesses and industry have stopped operations.
This has led to a 40 percent reduction in the average level of nitrogen dioxide pollution, CREA stated, resulting in 11,000 fewer deaths due to air pollution.
The reduction in air pollution has also resulted in 6,000 fewer new cases of asthma among children and 600 fewer premature births, CREA stated.
Portugal recorded the biggest decrease in nitrogen dioxide levels in Europe, as a 58 percent drop was recorded.
In Germany, nitrogen dioxide levels fell by 27 percent over the preceding 30 days due to the lockdown measures. In the UK, the corresponding fall was 36 percent, and a 44 percent decline was observed in France.
According to a 2019 report by the European Environment Agency, air pollution caused roughly 400,000 premature deaths in the European Union in 2016.
Countries across Europe implemented tough lockdown measures in March designed to curb the coronavirus disease outbreak. In total, more than 1 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the European Union, UK, and countries of the European Economic Area.