Coronavirus and Climate Change: The Pandemic’s Effect on the Environment

The Coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we communicate, brought travel to a standstill, created shockwaves throughout the world economy and altered almost every aspect of everyday life, but what about the environment? The impact of Covid19 on climate change and greenhouse gas emissions is something that is just starting to become clearer and while coronavirus has had an undeniable effect on carbon emissions, the question still remains, what does the future of a world battling both climate change and coronavirus look like?

What Happened and Why?

There is no doubt that COVID19 had a direct effect on global greenhouse gas emissions. In April it was reported that China, one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, had cut CO2 emissions by 25%, while lockdowns in Paris saw the city’s CO2 emissions down by 72%. The Coronavirus pandemic has brought about the biggest crash in carbon emissions that the world has ever recorded.

The Environmental Protection Agency has reported that if we continue on current projections, global coal demand will drop by 8% and global energy demand will be down by 6% this year, to put that into perspective that is the same as the yearly energy demands of India.

The impact of Coronavirus on climate change is one that is unprecedented in recent history. The most obvious reason for this impact is that people are staying home and businesses are closed. While this might not be great for the economy, the drastic decline in traffic, factories closing their doors and carbon-intensive long-haul flights being cancelled, all do wonders for carbon emissions. Living in a COVID19 world quite simply requires less energy.

So Where Do We Go from Here?

Coronavirus may have caused a drop in emissions and given the Earth a little breathing space for a few months, but with the climate crisis looming and the world starting to re-open for business, the question is what happens now?

Carbon emissions have seen a sharp spike since worldwide lockdowns have begun to ease and industries and factories have started to re-open. Experts fear that in the long run the impact of Covid19 on climate change will be an overwhelmingly negative one. Factories will overproduce in a bid to make up for the lost time and many government bodies will be more likely to allow organisations to operate with environmentally harmful practices in a bid to increase production to rapidly grow cash strapped economies.

However, not everyone agrees, professor of psychology Elise Amel, believes that the Covid19 pandemic created a time where people around the world had time to examine their individual carbon footprint and environmental impact. Amel believes that this re-examination of how we all consume will lead people to adopt more sustainable living practices, while the surge in activities like walking and cycling to work due to Coronavirus health concerns will help to influence a more sustainable future.

The impact of coronavirus on climate change and carbon emissions is a complex one. The Covid19 pandemic is an unprecedented situation that has changed almost every aspect of the everyday lives of people around the world. Although the Coronavirus pandemic caused the largest carbon crash in recorded history, it is still yet to be seen where we go from here and if this uncertain and historic time will further exacerbate the climate crisis or create a world that has cleaner skies for us all.

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