Will coronavirus slow down climate action?


The COVID-19 has much taken over the world. In just a few short months, most of the regions have locked down. The government has to implement the enhanced community quarantine on the entire Luzon. Everyone is strictly enforced to stay at home and practice social distancing. Curfew is imposed, only one person in every household is allowed to leave home to purchase necessities such as food and medicine. Land, air and sea travel have been stopped. Most of the companies have shut down. Citizens are being advised to avoid discretionary travel and go work from home over the coming months. Only the private establishments providing the necessities, such as food markets, hospitals and banks, can stay open. Essential workers must show proof of employment at the checkpoint. Malls and shopping centers have been closed, and mass public transport facilities have been suspended. All outbound international flights are also suspended. Public gatherings and events are being cancelled. Similar policies have been implemented in other parts of the Philippines, limiting the operations of businesses leading workers left without jobs.

The implementation of the enhanced community quarantine reduced domestic economic activity, shutting down almost all businesses in Luzon, and millions of workers have been displaced. The poorest Filipinos are the most vulnerable as they face both economic and health problems.

The aviation, tourism, trade, and remittances are most affected by it. The country loses millions of tourists as travelers canceling plans and airlines limiting local and international flights, due to the novel coronavirus. The tourism businesses have been closed. The Bureau of Customs (BOC) is expected to post lower collections due to less imports amid the outbreak. The Philippine Stock Exchange shuts down trading for two days. Stock markets around the world had some of their worst performance in decades this past week.Β 

Some of the companies are taking steps to help contain the lockdown’s economic crisis. Some have to waive rentals in their properties/businesses for the duration of the lockdown, while lenders are granting payment extensions to borrowers. Some companies have committed to continue salary payments, while others are providing funds to help employees.

Will the COVID-19 slow down climate action?

The economy might be taking a massive hit due to COVID-19, but the ecosystem is suddenly thriving. Amidst all the turmoil that this virus has caused, within a matter of days, global carbon dioxide emissions and energy use have reduced drastically.Β 

There is a strong link between economic activity and global carbon dioxide emissions, due to the dominance of fossil fuel sources of energy. Based on new projections for economic growth in 2020, the impact of the coronavirus might significantly curb global emissions.

NASA satellites have detected vast reduction in air pollution concentrations in different countries as millions went under lockdown or quarantine to slow the virus. Aviation accounts for 2% to 3% of global carbon emissions.

As the people working from home will likely increase the use of home heating and electricity, the curbing of commuting and the general slowdown in economies will likely have an impact on overall emissions.

While the crisis has led to a temporary decline in global carbon dioxide emissions, experts are warning it poses a serious threat to long-term climate change action by compromising global investments in clean energy and weakening industry environmental goals to reduce emissions.

The virus will hinder climate change action from corporations and countries. There is an instance for environmental concerns being pushed aside during times of crisis. The companies may delay or even cancel climate-friendly policies that require investments up front.

Experts are predicting that pollution will bounce back once the economy starts improving again, with the recovery in industrial activity, travel and consumption. There is likely an increase in emissions to sort of make up for lost time and money, in terms of production.

Our country, although an insignificant emitter with respect to global emissions, would be able to avoid future carbon emission mass gains by switching to low carbon development pathways with climate change adaptation and resilience building actions.

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