Effect of Corona Pandemic on Climate Change

As the world comes to a halt and recession seeps into all economies how has it affected the climate change picture?
With more than 6 months of lockdown in various parts of the world have we achieved some of our carbon emission goals?
What has the pandemic taught us in the context of Climate change?

Climate change is recorded over decadal time spans. Therefore, it is difficult to predict the effects on global climate due to 6 months of lockdown. That being said, researchers from across the globe have been conducting research to study the implications of the pandemic for climate change. Some of these are listed below:

  1. The pandemic led to increased internet usage, which is also tied to electricity and water use. The total carbon emissions from this increased use is estimated to be nearly 34.3million tonnes for the year 2020.
  2. China’s emissions had dropped about 25% in four weeks of lockdown. While this is good news, its uncertain how long this will last. It is expected that the pandemic will create a rebound effect i.e. when the lockdown is lifted, people will travel more and engage in activities that increase emissions.
  3. International climate negotiations were delayed, scientific research disrupted and climate action reduced because of increased focus on battling the pandemic.
  4. Environmentally harmful econimic activities (such as deforestation in Amazon) which had been abated as a result of ecological movements have been on the rise again as the world is hit by global recession.
  5. Increasing plastic consumption as well as use of private vehicles is expected to increase emissions too.
    However, the picture is not as gloomy as it appears to be. There are numerous reasons to be hopeful. For instance, some countries are beginning to adopt green measures for recovery from the pandemic. An innovative example is Amsterdam’s donut economy, a sustainable economic model, which was adopted in spring 2020.
    Countries like France, South Korea, Germany and the European Comission have increased investments in green energy. On the other hand, reduced aviation (which contributes to 11% global emissions) has led to a reduction in emissions. This could instigate investigation into possibilities for reducing emissions from aviation.
    Covid-19 has also demonstrated that urgent collective action is possible, and a similar approach can be adopted to address the climate crisis. In the long term, the pandemic could offer lessons and opportunities leading to environmental action. For instance, we now have a new baseline of what can be achieved digitally: remote work, education, shopping, and more. Our response to this health crisis could shape how we will deal with a climate crisis in the next decades. Times of change can lead to the introduction of long-lasting sustainable habits. This is perhaps the most important lesson the pandemic has taught us in the context of climate change.