Build back, with an eye on the en­vi­ron­ment

The dras­tic dip in emis­sions should be used as a mo­ment to imag­ine a new world

Hindustan Times (Jalandhar) - - COMMENT -

The first peer-re­viewed anal­y­sis of the coro­n­avirus pan­demic’s im­pact on global car­bon emis­sions has re­ported that daily emis­sions of the green­house gas plunged 17% by early April com­pared to 2019 lev­els. How­ever, the an­nual de­cline is likely to be only about 7%, if some re­stric­tions to halt the spread of the coro­n­avirus re­main in place. If they are lifted in mid-June, the fall for the year is likely to be 4%. That would still be the big­gest an­nual drop in emis­sions since World War II. While the steep drop is good news, it will make lit­tle dent in the larger bat­tle against global warm­ing. A UN En­vi­ron­ment Pro­gramme re­port last year found that emis­sions must fall by 7.6% ev­ery year this decade to meet the Paris Agree­ment’s goal of check­ing warm­ing at 1.5°C.

In an in­ter­view to The Guardian, one of the sci­en­tists in­volved in the new study said that ex­pe­ri­ence of the cri­sis has shown that changes in be­hav­iour by in­di­vid­u­als — such as not fly­ing, work­ing from home and driv­ing less — can help cut emis­sions partly. But the bulk of emis­sion sources re­main in­tact, which sug­gests that the world needs struc­tural changes in the econ­omy and in­dus­try. That’s why the coro­n­avirus-in­duced slow­down must be used as a mo­ment to build more sus­tain­able, re­silient and in­clu­sive economies. Other­wise, the cli­mate cri­sis will not just have its own set of ef­fects but also lead to more health scares, en­vi­ron­men­tal degra­da­tion, nat­u­ral dis­as­ters, and in­equal­ity, with vul­ner­a­ble com­mu­ni­ties most af­fected. Ev­ery cri­sis now has a strong en­vi­ron­ment di­men­sion. Use the dip in emis­sions to imag­ine a new, more eco-friendly, world.

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