In the USA, emissions dropped by about a third for a couple of weeks in April, a development that Robert Jackson, a co-author of the study and a Guggenheim fellow at Stanford University, told Grist was "absolutely unprecedented".
The scientists used data from daily electricity use and mobility tracking services to estimate that the world's emission of carbon dioxide per day reduced from 100 million tonnes to 83 million from burning fossil fuels.
The team analyzed government policies on confinement for 69 major carbon-emitting countries. Washington state, for example, saw a more than 40 percent drop in emissions during its peak confinement, whereas the pandemic swallowed up just under 18 percent of Iowa's emissions during its peak.
The paper details how the restrictions have seen daily global greenhouse gas emissions fall by as as much as 17 per cent in April, compared to the same time previous year.
For a week in April, the United States cut its carbon dioxide levels by about a third. A full 10% of the drop comes from flights, which normally account for 3% of global carbon emissions.
Emissions from industry and power together account for a further 43% of the decrease in daily global emissions.
The researchers said that the fall in emissions was only slightly offset by increases in residential emissions, as people work from home increasing demand on residential energy use. The measurements are from January through April of this year.
The changes in activity were also outlined in a report published by the International Energy Agency on Wednesday, which found road transport activity and aviation transport halved throughout most international markets in April. According to their projections on the impacts of easing restrictions around the globe, the total emissions for 2020 will only amount to a four to seven percent reduction on the 2019 figure. The paper adds that the last time emission levels were seen to be this low was in 2006.
The impact of confinement on 2020 annual emissions is projected to be around 4% to 7% compared to 2019, depending on the duration of the lockdown and the extent of the recovery.
Scientists have completed the first comprehensive look at how the pandemic has affected greenhouse gas emissions, and the big stat is eye-popping.
Almost half of the drop (43%) comes from people travelling on land - in cars, trains and buses - and a similar drop comes from fewer emissions from industry and energy production.