During the lock downs, pollution and greenhouse gas emissions fell across the world.
The speed and extent of the response to the pandemic gave hope that rapid action could also be taken on climate change. Governments mobilised to get people to change their behaviour, such as the avoidance of public events, which was in contrast to the difficulty environmental advocates have had in getting people to consume fewer resources. Employers encouraged people to work from home, which cuts emissions from driving to work.
Changed habits that could make a long term contribution to climate action could stick with us - working from home, video conferencing, working shorter weeks, staggering office hours to reduce traffic, travelling less, shopping locally. Companies that fly supplies from all around the world or rely on migrant labour may decide that building things locally is less risky.
The European Commission is considering imposing more stringent reporting requirements, and possibly legislative proposals, on firms like listed companies, banks and insurance firms to shield them from growing risks of biodiversity loss and pandemics.
Chapman B, “Could the Coronavirus Crisis Be the Beginning of the End for the Oil Industry?” (The Independent, April 2020)
Gearino D, “Coronavirus ‘Really Not the Way You Want To Decrease Emissions’” (Inside Climate News, March 2020)
Guarascio F, “EU Weighs New Requirements for Firms against Biodiversity, Pandemic Risks” (Reuters, April 2020)
Henriques M, “Will Covid-19 Have a Lasting Impact on the Environment?” (BBC, March 2020)