We all have seen the pictures on the news: crystal clear water and shoals of tiny fish in Venice’s canals, falling pollution levels and wild boars roaming the streets of empty cities. Indeed, the lockdowns in response to the outbreak of COVID-19 have had immediate effects on the environment and caused a dip in global CO2 emissions. Germany may even reach its climate target for 2020 according to forecasts. However, there is no reason to be cheerful. The pandemic and its consequences may seriously set back climate action around the globe.
Although both are global (health) emergencies, governments and people respond to COVID-19 and climate change differently. The COVID-19 pandemic requires short-term coping. People and policymakers have taken appropriately drastic measures to flatten the curve of infections. Climate change is a global emergency, too, set to cause more than 250.000 deaths a year due to heat waves, severe droughts and sea level rise. As global warming continues, the prospected negative impacts on all beings are accumulating. Unabated climate change is likely to reach dangerous tipping points in our Earth system with devastating consequences for future generations. However, climate change is still not perceived and responded to as a global emergency. At least not comparably to the degree of responses observed to COVID-19. Even worse, the current pandemic could destroy the momentum that the climate movement, especially thanks to FridaysForFuture, has built up over the last year by taking away public attention. The decisive UN climate change conference in 2020 (COP26) after the underwhelming results of the last COP has been postponed to 2021, which will further slow-down the dragging international climate process.
Read the full article here.
This blog first appeared on the DIE site.
Author: Ramona Hägele, Okka Lou Mathis, DIE.
Image courtesy of Nattu via Flickr.
The views are those of the author and not necessarily those of ETTG.