The economic impact of Covid-19 has been savage, the greatest disruption to economic activity since the second world war. Economies are in free fall. Already dire forecasts are likely to be revised for the worse again soon. Demand for oil and other commodities has plummeted. World trade has slumped and levels of transportation have dropped sharply.
At the same time, international measures to contain and combat the coronavirus brought a sudden and significant decline in harmful emissions. Before and after satellite imagery from NASA captivated the public; people around the world praised breathing fresh air; inhabitants of northern India marvelled at the sight of the Himalayan mountain range; and even the birds seemed merrier. The positive impact of these developments on climate change could be interpreted as one of the very few – perhaps only – silver linings in the otherwise devastating toll that the coronavirus has wrought on lives, jobs and entire societies across the globe.
The only problem is that the fall in carbon emissions began to reverse as soon as lockdown measures around the world started to lift. But, even if brief, the holiday from emissions highlights the dilemma facing us all. Unless the world seizes the moment to choose a low-carbon future, the quest for a rise in global temperatures by as little as 1.5°C will be as challenging as it was just a few months ago. There will be no guarantee of success in achieving the ambitious goals of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.
Read the full blog here.
This blog first appeared on the ODI site.
Author: Suma Chakrabarti, ODI.
Image courtesy of Friends of the Earth Scotland via Flickr.
The views are those of the author and not necessarily those of ETTG.