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During the first global lockdown from mid-March to May, as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, it was estimated that global carbon emissions decreased by as much as 17%. Images of coyotes on the streets of San Francisco and buffalos on the highways of New Delhi, quickly went viral. As such, #natureishealing became a popular hashtag all over social media. Therefore, despite the devastating effects that the pandemic has had on everyone all over the world, there is a small silver lining worth delving into.
In order to prolong this unprecedented positive effect on the environment, while also boosting the economy, many governments are discussing the implementation of Green Recovery policies in years ahead as they work to rebuild their nation’s wealth.
Early on, some activists were worried that the Coronavirus stole the spotlight from the climate crisis, and they weren’t without reason. Just last year in 2019 the world experienced catastrophic bushfires in California, Siberia, The Amazon, and Australia, as well as two Cyclones in Mozambique, Monsoon flooding in India and China, plus a Typhoon in Japan. It was the second warmest year on record, with the mean global temperature clocking in at 1.1°C above pre-industrial conditions (1850-1900).
These damages were not, however, without significant response. Greta Thunberg’s “School Strike for Climate” initiative, Extinction Rebellion, and the Global Climate Strike in September garnered historic numbers of support around the world. As a result, the IPCC warnings of the implications of a 1.5°C increase in global temperature by 2030 became mainstream knowledge, Green New Deals were introduced to parliament discussions, and world leaders realized the urgent need to address this problem.
That being said, one of the most notable structural changes in the last year has occurred in the global stock markets. Like a sort of middle domino between popular science and government, companies are now facing shareholder scrutiny if they don’t address the issue of climate change and provide a solution to reduce their emissions output. Therefore, relentless protesting that demands companies to divest from fossil fuels might be the step necessary to reach those at the top.
Economies will face huge challenges in the wake of the Coronavirus, but in the long run green recovery will defend against a future of expensive natural disasters. Many countries in Europe and Asia have committed to green recovery measures during lockdown. These measures typically involve loan schemes and tax incentives for companies to retrofit buildings with sustainable infrastructure, provide green jobs, and implement carbon-reducing sequestering goals into their company policies. Despite these large steps in the right direction, the fight for a green future is far from over.
As everyone goes back to work and cars fill the roads again, we are reminded that the Trumps and Bolsonaros of this world are still very much in power and have frequently acted against efforts to invest in a sustainable future. Yet recently, it seems that reality is catching up. For example, these prominent world figures initially denied that the Coronavirus was even a serious threat! This demonstrates that the truth will always come out, and that despite all of the pandemic's horrible consequences, there is a small bright side to look at.
Thumbnail Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
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