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What will happen to Climate Crisis post COVID19?
Relentless global efforts to fight Coronavirus have shifted the world’s focus away from the climate crisis, another other hot (no pun intended) subject that’s been gaining momentum.
The positive side of COVID19 pandemic is the massive cutback in transportation, manufacturing and other activities known to pollute and accelerate global warming.
Climate Crisis Post COVID19 – Air Pollution
As millions of people stay at home, under strictly enforced quarantines, the COVID-19 outbreak has reduced CO2 emissions across the board.
In March, NASA and the European Space Agency noticed a dramatic drop in NO2 emissions in China after its lockdown in February.
A similar decrease in air pollution was observed over Northern Italy, a few weeks later.
According to an image released by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), the GCC countries have seen a drop in nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentration between 26th November 2019 and 27th March 2020.
The drop in levels coincides with precautionary measures such as lockdowns that were introduced by countries around the region to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
In China, as manufacturing activity and fuel consumption declined, and the country’s energy consumption is down 25 per cent.
The lack of traffic has brought a sharp improvement in water and air quality.
In London, a bunch of screenshots collected from the TfL jam cams are showing how empty London is right now.
In India, home to 21 of the world’s 30 most polluted cities, the air has been cleaner in recent weeks.
Experts at the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) found that a single-day curfew resulted in the lowest average level of nitrogen dioxide pollution ever recorded in India’s urban areas during springtime.
Last month, in New Delhi, the nation’s capital, the average concentrations of a common form of particulate matter known as PM 2.5 dropped from 91 micrograms per cubic meter to 26 micrograms.
Bangalore, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai, also saw massive reductions in air pollutants as well.
Climate Crisis Post COVID19 – A Ray Of Hope
For the first time since the global financial crisis of 2008, we see again a global drop in CO2 and other toxic emissions.
And the falls look set to continue:
“If you look at traffic volumes, they’re still going down. And so we probably haven’t reached the bottom yet,” said Professor Ally Lewis, Director of Science at the NCAS.
“A few days ago, we were talking about journeys by car going down by about a third, and now it’s nearly a 50-60 per cent reduction. So, it’s possible if transport keeps declining, the signal we detect could get even larger,” he added.
Economic disruption could create behavioural adjustments and finally, present new opportunities for long-term changes in the way we produce and consume.
Unexpectedly, with the current trend of working from home, COVID-19 is creating long-term change.
Among other things, the future of types of remote work will create drastic reductions in all transport-related CO2 emissions.
Remote working will also transform the way people interact with one another.
It will lead to fewer physical meetings and thus, cut down on long-haul business flights.
We already see changes; from February, the global air traffic declined by 4.3 per cent, year-on-year.
With the transport sector being one of the most significant contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, changes to business travel will result in substantial reductions in both, levels of pollution and energy consumption.
Moreover, as countries being repairing their economies, the focus could be put on developing environmentally friendly, clean technologies.
This global pandemic is a wake-up call for all companies.
Time to take environmental risks seriously, and shift operations within a novel, sustainable framework that meets the challenges of the modern world.
It remains to be seen, as we grapple with more severe climate hazards if investors and decision-makers take this opportunity to adapt to the growing complexities of this modern world.
However, as the pandemic outbreak is already causing severe economic conditions, many countries might ignore the little environmental gain and embark on long-term programs, designed to reboot economies which would lead to an upward trend of CO2 emissions, on a global scale.
Although air pollution is dropping right now, in the longer-term COVID-19 may be bad news for the environment.
The brief drop in greenhouse gas emissions experience during the global financial crisis, was more than offset by a sharp rebound in pollution as the world economy recovered.
A weak global economy also threatens investment in renewable energy sources, particularly given the availability of cheap oil.
If the present crisis isn’t seen as an opportunity for widespread structural change, we won’t be breathing easier for long. Our environment may end up in even worse shape than ever.
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