Global CO2 emissions dropped sharply during lockdown. Factories were closed, populations were stuck at home, airplanes were grounded. Air and water quality also improved in many places. In Venice, for example, water quality improved and fish were even spotted in the canals. Scientists, however, warn that this improvement will be a temporary “blip” unless a green recovery is prioritised.
Nevertheless, people have seen alternatives are possible. Perhaps the biggest environmental benefit of the lockdown is that we saw nature can recover. Nobody wants lockdowns as a solution to environmental problems, but lessons can be learned. For example, Greenpeace in Germany has called for more people to be allowed to work from home. If 25% of employees teleworked regularly, 1.6 million tons of CO2 emissions could be prevented in Germany per year. Fewer commuters means fewer emissions. Will that be a convincing argument?
On the other hand, might the environment be sacrificed for the economy? The coronavirus pandemic has plunged the world into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. In Europe, the presidents of the Czech Republic and Poland have already asked the European Commission to postpone the implementation of the EU’s “European Green Deal”, which aims to make the bloc climate-neutral by 2050.
Has coronavirus helped the environment? Should the pandemic recovery plan try to help us “build back better” when it comes to environmental protection? Or will the economy be prioritised? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers!