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Posted on: April 21, 2020


Potsdam - Wikipedia

Given the fact that the Coronavirus (Covid-19) and its implications are dominating not only the news but the daily lives of nearly the whole globe, it is unsurprising that many have been thinking about the consequences of the coronavirus on climate action. On the one hand, one sees perspectives that seem to celebrate the global lockdown as a win for nature and climate, pointing out the huge reductions in pollution and greenhouse gases resulting from large-scale economic shutdowns and lifestyle changes. Journalists have reported on the return of clear water and fish to the canals in Venice. Maps from NASA show levels of nitrogen dioxide pollution (NO2) that are 10-30% lower than during the same period last year. One scientist has predicted that the reductions in air pollution resulting from the reduced industrial and other economic activity in China could actually save more lives than were lost to the Coronavirus. Nonetheless, our humanity tells us that we have nothing to celebrate when a pandemic kills hundreds of thousands of people. The goal of taking action on climate change should be to reduce human suffering and save lives; economic collapse and disease are not viable climate mitigation strategies. In practical terms, the current dip in emissions is unlikely to be sustained, and an economic recession endangers investments in clean energy and makes it more difficult to secure financing for other climate mitigation and adaptation projects.And yet this whole conversation is missing the bigger picture: the climate crisis is a health crisis. The health impacts of climate change are profound and far-reaching: from endangering food security to enabling the spread of mosquito and other vector-borne diseases to increased deaths due to more frequent and severe heatwaves – these effects are well known within the scientific community, and yet health has not yet made its way into the center of climate politics or policies. Climate experts continue to present the health and climate agendas as if they were not part of the same thing. Why do we combat the climate crisis in the first place? Isn’t it to safeguard our lives on a healthy planet? Nitrogen dioxide concentrations over France. Climate emergency and health emergency are two sides of the same coin. The risks of ignoring these links are too high. This pandemic offers us a painful but important opportunity to re-design our social and economic systems based on what really matters: planetary health. This means embracing the fact that the health of people and the health of the planet are inextricably intertwined; that our natural ecosystems are the most essential elements supporting life on this planet. This pandemic will pass. But others will come. As Yuval Noah Harari put it, “Coronavirus is a major test of citizenship”. Every individual can make a difference but we will need a global action plan. Where our governments channel resources in response to this pandemic and beyond will be the biggest determining factor in our ability to shape the future based on what really matters. Concrete suggestions are already being made: the head of the International Energy Agency (IEA) proposed that subsidies which are still going to the fossil fuel industry could be redirected to healthcare spending. This pandemic has demonstrated the fragility of our economic systems; perhaps this can be transformed into a call for a more sustainable way of living. A collective realization that good health is the foundation for all we do – including all economic activity- would be a positive outcome of this tragic health crisis.


The danger in the global coronavirus recovery will be inertia | Financial  Times

Scientists analysing the Mauna Loa data are looking for a change in atmospheric CO2 concentrations, due to the global economic slowdown caused by coronavirus but the CO2 concentrations measured at Mauna Loa are still rising, and are on track to reach a new global record in May. A 10% drop in fossil fuel emissions over a period of one year due to the coronavirus shutdown would show up in atmospheric CO2 concentrations and be measurable at Mauna Loa. All over the world, pollution levels are dropping fast. The lockdowns triggered by the pandemic, with about 2.6bn people living under restrictions, are starting to have an impact not only on the virus but also on the planet. As airlines ground their fleets, car travel grinds to a halt and industries shut down, emissions from transportation and power have plummeted. In the US, emissions of carbon dioxide are forecast to drop 7.5 per cent this year, according to a recent government estimate. In the EU, daily emissions have fallen 58 per cent compared to pre-crisis levels, according to the French consultancy Sia Partners. Global levels of nitrogen dioxide, a pollutant linked to cars, have hit a record low, according to the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air. Less coal burning in China in February alone has already avoided the equivalent of the annual emissions of a small European country. And the air quality in major cities around the world is cleaner than at any time in recent memory. It is a big, natural experiment that you could never reproduce on this scale. We will be able to get a much better handle on where the pollution is coming from in normal circumstances. Yet there is a risk that the pandemic will overshadow environmental concerns. Climate talks have already been delayed and new policy initiatives postponed. It’s going to put a pause on tackling climate change. The corona virus has overshadowed climate conversations. Some of the immediate changes are visible in daily life. In Venice, the waters of the canals are running clear, because boats are no longer churning up the mud. In the centre of London, the sound of birdsong is audible, because traffic noise has all but stopped. But environmental advocates say it is too early to celebrate, and point out that any benefits are likely to be shortlived. “Closing down our entire economies for a period of weeks or months is not going to get us toward decarbonising. There may be some positive behavioural impact. But the real question is what happens in the recovery phase when we lose it allClimate scientists are racing to understand what the drop in emissions could mean for global warming – whether the economic impact of coronavirus will reduce atmospheric concentrations of CO2. “The lesson is that you can change emissions with this kind of shock but we need to change emissions without a shock. Any long-term change in atmospheric concentrations of CO2 is likely to be very small. But the fall in emissions is real. In March, airline CO2 emissions dropped 31 per cent. That drop is set to become even steeper. Global air traffic was 65 per cent below pre-crisis levelsand 90 per cent below last yearPetrol sales in the US have fallen 48% to their lowest level in 30 years. Global oil demand has fallen by 20m barrels per day. Oil accounts for 40% of global CO2 emissions but this good news is likely to be outweighed by the pause in climate action policies. But the virus has also delayed climate action plans. A proposal for a new Climate Law in Europe for net zeron by 2050 is back on the shelf for now and planned UN TALKS have been postponed. But climate action laggards such as the US and Australia, may now hit their climate goals by virtue of the pandemic. Yet environmental concerns go out the window in the face of a huge economic shock. CONCLUSION: What we have seen from all of this, is that we can make changes,” says Nicholas Stern, chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment. “We have to recognise there will be other pandemics and be better prepared but we must also recognise that climate change is a deeper and bigger threat that doesn’t go away, and is just as urgent. Values are starting to shift, as societies accept unprecedented measures such as lockdowns and social distancing and some behavioural changes could last long after coronavirus. Blogger’s comment: Now we know how to control people. 


The COVID-19 Global Response Index – An FP Analytics special report on 36  key countries

Extreme measures to fight the coronavirus have raised activists’ hopes for similarly drastic action on global warming. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted daily life, caused widespread sickness and fatalities, and sent the global economy careening toward a depression. Governments have responded by taking unprecedented steps to shut down entire cities, ban travel, and isolate nations. These extreme measures that are giving hope to climate activists that similarly ambitious policies might be possible to address global warming, which many consider a similar existential threat. If governments can take extreme actions to cancel sports seasons, shut down workplaces, and restrict travel, for climate change. Like COVID-19, climate change is the ultimate collective action problem. Each ton of greenhouse gas contributes equally to the problem, no matter where in the world it is produced. The United States contributes 15 percent of emissions each year; Europe, a meager 9 percent. Lawmakers in Brussels may choose to impose an economic cost on Europeans by ratcheting up the pace of decarbonization, but there will be little benefit in avoided climate impacts unless others around the world do the same. If nations look only at the impact of a ton of CO2 on their own nations, the collective response would be vastly inadequate to address the true damage from climate change. Unfortunately, the need for collective action is often an excuse for inaction. House Republicans often argue that if China won’t commit to major emissions reductions, neither should the United States. As U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander recently put it, “When it comes to climate change, China, India, and developing countries are the problem.” To slow the spread of COVID-19, governments are clamping down to force collective action when individuals fail to follow guidelines. Cities across the world are shutting down businesses and events, at great cost. Yet the effectiveness of any one government’s action is limited if there are weak links in the global effort to curb the pandemic—such as from states with conflict or poor governance—even if the world is in agreement that eradicating a pandemic is in every country’s best interest.

SO WE SHOULD BE ABLE TO TAKE THAT KIND OF ACTION FOR THE CLIMATE: Climate change is even harder to solve because it results from the sum of all greenhouse gas emissions and thus requires aggregate effort, a problem particularly vulnerable to free-riding, as my Columbia University colleague Scott Barrett explains in his excellent book Why Cooperate? BUT whereas governments can force people to stay home, there is no global institution with the enforcement power to require that nations curb emissions. Taking climate change action, even by countries less at risk than others, is a risk mitigation strategy because of the high degree of uncertainty over how severe the impacts of climate change will end up being (THE CLIMATE SCIENCE POSITION THAT THE LESS THEY KNOW THE SCARIER IT GETS DERIVES FROM THE PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE OF ENVIRONMENTALISM RESEARCH). While public concern with climate change is rising, there remains a long way to go. BUT THE CORONAVIRUS SHOWS US THAT IT CAN BE DONE.

The older generation has failed to take climate action; it's time young  people take over -By Ahmad Ibsais – Opinion Nigeria


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