COVID-19 recovery phase is an opportunity to rethink climate change

The pandemic has proven to be deadly in many ways but there is a silver lining. It has allowed all of us to rethink our approach towards development as the lockdown period reaffirmed that our nature, eco-system and bio-diversity can be healed

The virus has not only affected the health and well-being of people around the world but also has dented the economy pretty badly. The International Monetary Fund has predicted that the global economy will take $12 trillion hit from the virus. Now, in order to rebound from the massive losses, countries have already started investing trillions of dollars back into
their economies.
Although the situation is unfortunate, it also gives countries a chance to undo the mistakes that they have made in dealing with climate change and associated issues. Global warming continues to grow at an alarming rate. The month of May has been the hottest in recorded history. The lockdown, which was enforced to stop the spread of the virus, had also been successful in minimising carbon emissions by 17 per cent in early April, but surged back up to about 5 per cent below the previous average as of June, as normalcy resumed. The lockdown had allowed the environment to take a much-needed breather, but it is important to think about how such improvements can be made in ways that are sustainable. The call of the hour is to decarbonise our emissions, whether it is vehicular or industrial emissions. Governments across the world need to decide upon how they are to make decarbonisation a sustainable practice for the future.
We need breakthroughs to avert the situation. For this, we only have about 6 months, top energy experts warn. In an interview with the Guardian, Fatih Birol, Executive Director, International Energy Agency (IEA), said that the implications of the financial relief packages, that the governments plan to spend on reviving the economy and which amount to about $9 trillion as of now, may make or break the fight to meet the climate target. “The next three years will determine the course of the next 30 years and beyond. If we do not take action we will surely see a rebound in emissions. If emissions rebound, it is very difficult to see how they will be brought down in future. This is why we are urging governments to have sustainable recovery packages.”
The IEA’s sustainable recovery roadmap presents a plan that could be used to bring the economy and jobs back while simultaneously reinforcing the focus on greener fuel alternatives. It sets out over 30 policy measures that can be implemented in the course of the coming three years and primarily advocates modernising renewable energy generation projects. This would aim to generate skilled jobs and also cause a steep decline in carbon emissions.
Another important observation can be made through this whole pandemic is that people generally tend to respond to emotions, not science or reports. Even though official guidelines which urged countries to up their pandemic preparedness and response were released by the World Health Organisation beforehand, the situation after 6 months of the warning shows how lightly the threat had been perceived. Many world leaders have refused to believe that climate change is a threat to humanity.
The misconceptions around climate change need to change. We have witnessed many environmental tragedies in the recent past, like the Australian bush fires and the European heat waves. Experts have attributed most of them to the phenomenon of climate change. It has the potential to be the disaster of our times, and radical changes from the norm are to be made and sustained to avoid a large-scale calamity. And, the bottom line, is everyone on the planet has to adopt sustainable practices and embrace environmentally benign living.

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