Written by Sofia Eugeniou
Since the outbreak of Covid-19 and subsequent lockdown of the island – of which Cyprus has experienced for six weeks now – a huge drop in air pollutant emissions has occurred.
Keeping us up to date on the matter, Head of Air Quality and Strategic Planning Section in the Department of Labour Inspection, Dr. Chrysanthos Savvides detailed how air pollution levels in the city centres of Cyprus have reduced significantly between the March-April period. See table below:
Eco-data focusing on the island’s capital city of Nicosia has found that the concentration of nitrous oxides was around five times below the corresponding January emissions. This is especially noticeable during peak hours of traffic, such as the 7-9 AM morning rush.
There has also been a significant reduction in levels of carbon monoxide and benzene, other chemical compounds that pose risks to the environment, wildlife and human health.
This fall in air pollution is associated with the significant reduction in road traffic since lockdown. The use of cars proves responsible for the poor air quality that smothers the city centres of Cyprus, and that there is a critical need to put measures in place to keep this positive turnaround going through the development of greener and more sustainable transport options.
Interestingly, the demand for electricity has decreased by 15-20%. With the gradual lifting of restrictive measures put in place since the outbreak, it is likely the island will see an increase in demand, especially as Cyprus enters its sunniest and warmest months where tourism peaks and so does the use of air conditioning.
The drop alone is an indicator that we, as a species, take for granted the natural resources the planet provides us with. The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted that we do not need to excessively consume resources that provide our electricity at the rates we do.
On an island that continues to industrialise, urbanise and globalise at unprecedented rates, especially along its coastal cities such as Limassol, the need to strategize and develop greener and more sustainable solutions for transport and energy are vital.