COVID-19 and the Environment: What Changed and How we Can Carry it Forward
- Jul 12, 2021 3:00 pm GMT
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected millions of people worldwide and killed hundreds of thousands. This is truly a tragedy that will have knock-on effects for years to come. These will be mainly in public health of course, but also other sectors and aspects of life. One of these aspects you may have seen during the pandemic online is Coronavirus’s effect on the environment. The main question is whether these environmental changes will carry forward, or just be a blip on the global-warming radar.
As COVID-19 worsened and continues to in some areas of the world, government-imposed lockdowns took hold. Businesses closed, curfews imposed, social restrictions enacted, and the world came to a grinding halt. At the time of writing (August 11, 2020), places like Australia, China, Spain, and sections of the US remain under lockdown and strict guidelines. Much of the world is operating under strict public health guidelines. While the pandemic rages on, a consequential effect of lockdowns has been a reduction in pollution across the globe. Compared with this time last year, levels of pollution in New York have reduced by nearly 50% because of measures to contain the virus. In China, emissions fell 25% at the start of the year as people were instructed to stay at home, factories shuttered, and coal use fell by 40% at China’s six largest power plants since the last quarter of 2019. Transportation makes up 23% of global carbon emissions. These emissions have fallen in the short term in countries where public health measures, such as keeping people in their homes, have cut unnecessary travel. Driving and aviation are key contributors to emissions from transport, contributing 72% and 11% of the transport sector’s greenhouse gas emissions respectively. (https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200326-covid-19-the-impact-of-coronavirus-on-the-environment)
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