Duke Experts Assess How The Pandemic Affects Energy Use

May 13, 2020

Drew Shindell, Duke University Professor of Earth Science
Credit Duke University

Environmental experts at Duke University say the COVID-19 pandemic could have wide-ranging implications for the way the world produces and consumes energy.

Overall energy use has been down since sweeping social distancing measures went into effect.  Industrial and automobile emissions have decreased sharply, which has improved air quality. In a webinar Wednesday morning, Duke earth sciences professor Drew Shindell said that raises questions about how governments will respond when they ease restrictions and people go back to work.

"Do we build back better and get a new society where we put people to work doing things that can help the environment over the long term like retrofitting buildings, installing solar panels and installing EV chargers?" he said. "Do we put them to work in those kind of industries, or do we go back to the old fashioned way?"

Shindell and other professors suggested Congress should consider a carbon tax or another economic stimulus package that includes investments in clean energy.