Covid-19 and the Climate

The recent pandemic has shaken the entire world in a short period. COVID-19 has led to a global health crisis, as a result of which there has been a massive economic slowdown in these past few months. With the high rates of transmission, governments across the globe have been rushing to control the spread of this virus. Since the end of March, major sectors like aviation, hospitality, education and trade have come to a standstill in an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the curve.

 

Lockdowns were imposed globally – applying a complete halt in all industrial activities, aviation sectors and public transportation services, etc. As a result of this, there was a massive decrease in global carbon emissions, decrease in greenhouse gasses and improvement in air quality. With people working from home and a reduction in everyone’s daily travel, we could see a positive effect on the environment around the world. India witnessed a drastic improvement in air quality with lesser atmospheric pollutants like NO2, CO2, SO2 present in the atmosphere. According to the European Environment Agency, many major European cities like Barcelona, Madrid, Milan witnessed a 40% decline in NO2 levels. Major cities in the UK such as London also witnessed a huge decline in atmospheric pollutants during the period of the lockdown. 

 

However, these positive effects are merely short term if sufficient measures are not taken by governments across the world to tackle the climate crisis in the coming few months. It is a known fact that the climate crisis is becoming bigger and bigger with each passing day and the increasing temperatures around the world is a proof of that. During the course of 2020 itself, the UK recorded its hottest day in August in over 17 years, western parts of the US like California witnessed extreme heatwaves causing fires to break out in nearby forests and mountains, Australia witnessed deadly wildfires at the beginning of the year due to extreme temperatures and massive floods were reported in southern parts of India as well due to increased rainfall and cloud bursts. 

 

While the pandemic has led to a halt in almost all sectors, the climate crisis has been getting worse with each passing day. COVID-19 has been taking up most of the world’s attention, with businesses, institutions and governments planning strategies and policies to tackle and control the pandemic, as well as attempting to increase economic growth.

 

And even though we did see an improvement in the environment due to lockdowns implemented in many countries, there is also a higher urgency now to make sure that countries rebuild their economies based on clean energy methods. It is integral to ensure that countries work together so there are no delays in climate policies, no easing of environmental restrictions for faster recovery and most importantly, a greater urgent approach of government to rebuild their respective countries in a more sustainable and greener way.