Looking for a silver lining in a pandemic may seem a little crass but climate scientists couldn't help wondering what impact the curbing of travel and manufacturing in China was having on the world's largest carbon emitter.
Carbon Brief, the non-profit climate science website, calculated emissions last month were 25pc down on a typical February - a major drop given the scale of normal output.
As China's drastic actions are replicated around the world, including Ireland, the question is being asked whether coronavirus could stop rising emissions in their tracks, or at least prompt nations to reflect on how their citizens travel and work to see if there might be a less harmful way.
Climatologist Professor Peter Thorne of Maynooth University said there will likely be an impact on global emissions for 2020 but possibly not enough to make it a pivotal year.
"A lot depends on whether we get to June or July and we're looking at this in the rear view mirror or whether we're still in the teeth of it," he says.
"Fossil fuel emissions will dip but whether the emissions that have arisen from the bush fire season in Australia counteract that is another question.
"We're still driving around, we're still, to a lesser extent, flying; we're still using electricity, so I think there will still be an increase in greenhouse gas emissions. It will just be less marked."
Transport accounts for 20pc of Ireland's emissions and the sector has been growing yearly with the growth in population and economic activity.
Even as workers were told to stay home last week, the Dublin city traffic control centre noted an increase in traffic on key routes into the city while public transport passenger numbers fell.
"It suggests people took their cars to avoid public transport," said traffic officer, Damien Cooney. "People feel cocooned in their car but that goes against the changes everyone is trying to encourage."
The slow road to electrification of vehicles suggests no halt in the upward trend of transport emissions any time soon but Prof Thorne said the switch to home working could give pause for thought: "It certainly affords us an opportunity as a society and as businesses to consider whether there are alternative ways to network and to work.
"Humans are great at being status quo animals. We love our habits. Disruption affords an opportunity to imagine how we might do things differently and that's not just an environmental opportunity, it's a quality of life opportunity."
Practitioners in his own field are already having to explore alternatives. A slew of international scientific meetings have been called off and the lead authors working on the next report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the UN's top climate body, will have to meet online.
Prof Thorne, a lead author, says it will be interesting to see if sufficient progress can be made: "It is a wake-up call. Do we need all these physical meetings? Maybe we don't."
However, he warned the lack of face-to-face interaction could weaken the exchange of ideas and dilute common commitment.
This is a critical year for climate action. The next big UN climate meeting, COP26, scheduled for November, marks five years since the Paris Agreement, and represents the deadline by which the world's nations are to formally adopt tougher emission reduction targets.
Preparatory meetings are postponed and Prof Thorne said if the coronavirus crisis runs into the summer, the main event may be in doubt.
Professor Pete Lunn, behavioural economist with the Economic and Social Research Institute, agreed disruption can lead to positive changes in behaviour.
"So much of our life is habit and what can often happen is when you drastically disrupt people's routines, they are more inclined to try different things and when they do that, sometimes they develop new habits," he said.
But whether attitudes to consumerism and wasteful consumption will change during reflective spells of isolation, he is not so sure. "People will put off making major purchases but I don't think it's going to change how much we desire things or how much we enjoy spending our money," he said.
A more nuanced mindset change may occur, however, via the joint realisation that everyone's behaviour affects everyone else. That's as true for coronavirus spread as carbon emissions, Prof Lunn said.
"Climate change is a public good problem in exactly the way that coronavirus is a public good problem. It is one where we are all threatened by something and where all of our different behaviours contribute so we have to altogether alter our behaviour to tackle it."
Prof Thorne has some concerns the coronavirus crisis could be used by governments as an excuse to ignore the climate crisis.
"In the short term it will fall down the agenda and rightly so. We have an emergency and we have to respond to that but this emergency will pass - the other one remains.
"But equally coronavirus affords us an opportunity to recalibrate. It may yield a recognition that we are all part of the global system, the global environment and a fragile part of this planet," he said.
"There is an opportunity to re-imagine our relationship with the planet and an opportunity to re-imagine our relationship with science and to understand that we should respect science whether it's epidemiology, climate or any number of other disciplines."