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Covid-19 and the climate emergency

Has the recent Covid-19 lockdown impacted the climate emergency for the greater good? 

As the Coronavirus pandemic became a fast-evolving crisis, we were told to retreat to our homes as life as we knew it ground to a standstill. Less people were commuting to work, traffic on the roads ceased and aeroplanes were grounded. But what has this meant for the environment?

Some of the immediate changes were clearly visible in daily life. With social distancing measures in place, urban cities witnessed wildlife returning to the streets, whilst Canale Grande in Venice became clearer due to the lack of boats in its waters. Across the world there have been many reports that wildlife is flourishing in the absence of humans and speculation that nature has begun to heal itself.

Research from the Nature Climate Change study found there to be a 17% dip in CO2 emissions in early April 2020. An impressive figure considering that similar carbon statistics have not been seen since 2007. A temporary reduction in economic output and industrial production has played a large role in the reduced emissions so it is important to remember that the CO2 dip will only be temporary. The discussion around such positive statistics has led to many questioning whether the Covid-19 pandemic will cause a permanent shift in the climate change emergency. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

While the environmental impact of the pandemic may not be long-term, it has provided us with a rare glimpse at what the world could look like with decreased CO2 emissions and reduced air pollution. The pandemic has shed light on the mass scale of global warming that we still face and how it needs to be urgently tackled worldwide.

A recent article published by National Geographic reiterated this issue, stating: “Emissions may be down, but carbon dioxide still piles up relentlessly in the atmosphere. It’s more important than ever to find climate change solutions.”

The population has shown how easily it can adapt when put under the pressure of a global crisis. As we begin to emerge from lockdown, applying this adaptability and attitudinal change towards the climate crisis should be a key priority for both governments and individuals.

When life begins to return to some level of normality, there are small changes we can make to ensure that we are all looking after the environment and minimising our collective carbon footprint.

Becoming mindful of how you commute to work, or how you generate electricity can have small impact on your carbon footprint. These changes are important, however becoming carbon neutral on your own is virtually impossible. If anything, the past few months has taught us that much more is needed to be done than just changing our behaviour.

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