Pollution levels in Cyprus have plummeted as a result of restriction measures enforced amid the coronavirus outbreak, which brought a significant drop in traffic and electricity consumption, highlighting the benefits of pressing forward with sustainable transport and energy production solutions.
Speaking to the Cyprus News Agency on Tuesday, head of the Air Quality department Chrysanthos Savvides said that air pollution levels marked a notable drop at city centres during the months of March and April.
Particularly, between the hours of 7am and 9pm, when Nicosia usually records its highest traffic levels, Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) levels fell up to five times lower than levels recorded during the month of January.
In March, NOx levels were at 33, compared to 53 in March last year, while in April this year NOx levels were at 16, compared to 42 in April 2019.
Savvides said this stark difference proves that traffic is mostly responsible for the poor air quality often recorded in city centres, stressing that the time is ripe for the political leadership to take steps toward enhancing public transport services and to come up with other ways of decreasing the number of vehicles on the island’s road networks.
In addition to the drop in nitrogen oxide levels, the coronavirus lockdown months also recorded a decrease in carbon monoxide (CO) levels, particular matter 10 micrometers or less in diameter (PM10), and benzene (C6H6) levels throughout Cyprus.
Energy consumption falls
Over the past two months, energy consumption was also down by 15-20%, resulting in a corresponding drop in air pollutant emmissions, press officer of the Cyprus Transmission System Operator (CTSO), Giorgos Ashikalis, told CNA.
Ashikalis explained that the lockdown brought industrial and commercial activity to a halt, bringing a 15-20% fall in demand for energy.
He added that while domestic energy consumption showed a small rise, springtime weather conditions meant people didn’t need to use heating or air conditioning appliances.
Ashikalis noted that energy demand is expected to rise as restrictions continue to loosen, but demand during the summer months is hard to predict as current indicators take into account tourism and the use of air conditioning in hotels, but the uncertainty surrounding the coming summer in terms of tourism means we can’t make safe predictions.