Coronavirus: The immediate effect on climate change – reduction in global Co2 emissions
COVID-19 has suspended normality across the globe. With everyone’s attention now focused on fighting the virus, what does this mean for the fight against climate change?
The pandemic is changing how we live and is subsequently having a profound impact on the environment. An immediate effect the virus has had on the climate is a reduction in global Co2 emissions.
One silver lining to the current global crisis as a result of COVID-19 is the improvements in air quality due to the drop in pollution from transport.
This was observed first by NASA as satellite images showed a dramatic decline in pollution levels over China, thought to be due to the economic slowdown caused by the outbreak of the virus. On January 23rd, the Chinese government put Wuhan and other major cities on lockdown in an attempt to contain the virus resulting in a standstill of normal life.
Fei Liu, Air Quality Researcher for NASA’s Goodard space flight centre, told the Guardian: “This is the first time I have seen such a dramatic drop-off over such a wide area for a specific event.”
Almost a third of the world’s population is now on lockdown, including Italy, Spain, UK, France, Switzerland and most of Western Europe. With people prevented from leaving their homes and most travel plans either cancelled or postponed, the significant decrease in the use of transport, including regular car journeys, commercial flights, cruises & public buses/trains is giving the planet some much-needed respite.
UK wildlife expert Chris Packham told the BBC that while some wildlife may temporarily get some well-needed recovery, he fears we will lose traction on some very important longer-term issues such as climate change and biodiversity loss and it will be difficult to get that momentum going again.
The actions taken to suppress the spread of the virus have revealed what measures are possible in an emergency and many experts are urging governments to apply the same momentum to the climate emergency. Experts believe that the pandemic exposes how we can do things differently.
We should continue to be “putting the likely impact on health equity at the heart of all policymaking.That would lead to better environmental policy, it would lead to better social policy, it would lead to better healthcare policy and better political policies,” argues Sir Michael Marmot, Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health at UCL and Chair of the WHO’s Commission on Social Determinants of Health.
On an online panel discussion hosted by climate litigation charity Plan B, Marmot continued to argue that we cannot go back to ‘business as usual’, “We must not go back to the status quo, we cannot do that.”
“With Covid-19, everything [on austerity] went out of the window. It turns out austerity was a choice,” he said. “The government can spend anything [in the context of the coronavirus crisis], and they have socialised the economy.”
Co-founder of Extinction Rebellion, and Green & Tonic panelist Dr Gail Bradbrook, agreed with Marmot, “Things that needed to have been done but weren’t to prevent the pandemic, are similar to the things needed to address the climate and ecological crisis.”
Extinction Rebellion have been urging governments to aim for net-zero emissions by 2025, Dr Bradbrook added: “We were told this was an “impossible target”, but the things happening right now are the things needed to hit a 2025 target. We can do the impossible. We have to.”
Jason Hickel, Lecturer in Economic Anthropology at Goldsmiths University, agrees that the drastic action taken by governments to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 has environmental benefits, but he argues that this is not a sustainable policy.
“When you scale down energy use and industrial production, it does have these ecological benefits but the crucial thing to observe is that this is happening in an unplanned, chaotic way which is hurting people’s lives […] We would never advocate such a thing. What we need is a planned approach to reducing unnecessary industrial activity that has no connection to human welfare and that disproportionately benefits already wealthy people as opposed to ordinary people. There are much more equitable, just and carefully planned ways to approach this kind of problem.”
The drop in global carbon dioxide emissions is, for the moment, temporary. They will likely revert back to pre-coronavirus levels if global economies resume as before. If overall recorded global emissions for 2020 fall due to the coronavirus induced drop this could encourage a false sense that global emissions are on a long-term decline and reinforces how difficult it is to reduce emissions in an economically sustainable way.
However, as many experts argue, there are valuable lessons to be learnt from our response to the outbreak of COVID-19 and these can be applied to the climate emergency by putting health equity at the heart of all policymaking and drastically changing the way we live and consume in order to reduce global emissions, reach the 1.5 degree target and achieve a sustainable global green economy.
READ MORE ABOUT CLIMATE ACTION – HERE
Camilla Watkiss, 30 March 2020, Climate Action
UPDATE from UNEARTHED, Greenpeace ( 19/6/20) – Return of Smog
The world is beginning to reopen and emissions are taking off. The New York Times reports that global carbon emissions for mid-June were just 5% lower than in the same period in 2019, despite falling by 17% in the spring. The news comes as major economies are looking to bounce back quickly after the coronavirus pandemic. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has calculated that worldwide governments are set to spend £7.2tn rebuilding their economies after the virus. Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA, warned that a rapid “carbon rebound” would jeopardise efforts to prevent catastrophic climate change. Elsewhere, prominent politicians and business leaders have called for global leaders to back an economic recovery powered by renewable energy. Bloomberg has an interesting feature on what green growth would look like.
RISCY NEWS 15
Welcome to our 15th edition of RISCY NEWS! While the RISC centre is closed we would like to share the latest news and articles.
Important Announcement – The World Shop will re-open from 1st August – check the website for
days and times. The meeting rooms will re-open from 1st September – the meeting rooms team will be in touch with existing customers soon. The Global Cafe and an exciting new venture will re-open on 1st October – check back for more details!
Please consider making a regular donation to RISC to help us continue our work in the community here . We are very grateful to everyone that has already donated to RISC during this difficult time. Thank you for your continued support.
News & Campaigns
Join Jubilee Debt Campaign’s online film screening and Q&A with the Director of ‘Fondo’, a new documentary shedding light on Argentina’s perpetual debt crisis and its disastrous effects on everyday Argentinians.
Right now the government of Argentina is in tense negotiations with private creditors on whether they will be able to restructure their debts, following the ninth debt default in the country’s history.
But what we don’t see is what the debt crisis means for the people of Argentina, or how the decisions of governments and international institutions have led the country to the brink.
Join us to find out more at this first UK showing of the film which will be followed by a live Q&A with Director Alejandro Bercovich.
Wednesday 8 July, 7.30pm
Church leaders oppose further annexation of the West Bank
We stand alongside the Holy Land’s Christian leaders, who have warned that the Israeli government’s plan to annex parts of the West Bank after 1 July ‘would bring about the loss of any remaining hope for the success of the peace process’.
Continue reading : HERE
Court forces Ecuador government to protect Indigenous Waorani during COVID-19
Ecuador’s Indigenous Waorani community have won a lawsuit against the government, demanding it take urgent precautionary measures to better protect their community against COVID-19 sweeping through their territory in the Amazon rainforest.
READ MORE – HERE
Breaking the debt bonds – modern slavery in the time of coronavirus
“If we can’t go outside, we can’t earn. What would we eat if we can’t earn? If I go to a Mahajan (a loan shark) for money, he will definitely take much higher interest rate.”
With savings running out, coronavirus is forcing people in vulnerable communities to make impossible choices. Many face a return to debt bondage in order to survive the crisis.
We need to respond now.
READ MORE – HERE
AFSA WEBINAR: COVID-19: A Wake-Up Call For Food System Change In Africa
Educational Resources : The Case for Climate Justice: illustrated booklet – by Global Justice Now
Check out this new booklet explaining why climate breakdown is an issue of global injustice.
‘Climate justice’ is an often-heard phrase nowadays, but the agenda of radical transformation that lies behind it is less widely understood.
We need to engage with questions of inequality, colonialism, racism and corporate power to appreciate how we’ve arrived at the present moment,
and build an effective movement around a vision of systemic change.
Read it online or order FREE printed copies via GJN’s website 👇
READ MORE – HERE
Africa Is My Home: A Child of the Amistad
by Monica EdingerOn July 2, 1839, Africans on the Cuban schooner Amistad rose up against their captors, seizing control of the ship, which had been transporting them to chattel slavery.
Africa Is My Home: A Child of the Amistad about Margu, a child on the Amistad. The book includes the story of her captivity during the trial, the court case, her eventual return to Mendeland in Sierra Leone, her later return to the United States, and her graduation from Oberlin College.
CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW
World Shop Supplier
Perhaps you’ve heard – the World Shop is reopening in August! We’ve missed you, Reading, and we couldn’t be more excited. In particular, we’ve really missed selling you fair trade coffee. Equal Exchange‘s many delectable varieties, for example.
Until then, you can read about some of their producers. Their Colombian coffee is produced by the ANEI coffee cooperative, which has created a project wherein the women produce their own speciality coffee. This allows the female workers of ANEI to control their own work and manage their own funds within the coffee farming community.
ANEI was founded by Aurora Izquierdo, who left the indigenous Arhuaco community of Santa Marta in pursuit of a higher education.
You can read more about Aurora Izquierdo and the Arhuaco people – HERE
Food4Families – Veg4Reading
As part of the Veg4Reading project Lavender Place Community Garden has been flourishing with new vegetables.
SEE – HERE
Tiny Veg Patch
Tiny Veg Patch is looking at how to grow and use Mint! I never realised there were so many varieties, but have a read – HERE
|The RISC centre is closed now due to the coronavirus lockdown. As a charity RISC relies heavily on keeping the entire centre open, including venue hire, the Global Café, and the World Shop.
We’ll be working to find ways to survive the financial impact and it would make huge difference if you would consider making a donation
You can contact us by email email@example.com or message us on Facebook or Twitter.
We hope to see you again soon, once the situation normalises. Until then, we wish you good health and safety.