The global pandemic has had devastating effects on everyone’s lives. Loved ones have been lost, the lockdown has resulted in isolation, staying indoors, and becoming distanced from friends, leaving some feeling more alone than ever. Mental health has suffered, people have been forced to stop doing their favourite sports, and the economy has deteriorated. The year of 2020 certainly has not left a positive mark in history, however there are some positives that have come out of the coronavirus pandemic- benefits to the environment.
Climate change protests had real momentum in the early months of 2020, where mass numbers of climate activists protested all around the world urging for action. But when coronavirus became much more prevalent in the news, the climate campaigners and their protests were grounded to a halt, forced to stop marching and move online. The climate movement almost seemed on ‘pause’ for however long during these unprecedented times.
In spite of countries shutting down social activity, the environment has thrived. Emission levels have plunged since lockdown, and the effects of reduced pollution have been marked globally as well due to flights being grounded, roads and streets emptied of vehicles and people and factories being shut down. In China, satellite images show significant drops in nitrogen dioxide pollution levels. In Venice, the water in the channels has drastically become clearer. In New York, scientists have reported a 5-10 percent drop in CO2 emissions, with traffic levels falling 35 percent.
However the prominent topic at the moment is whether we can sustain this and make a green recovery. Scientists emphasise that a pandemic is not the way to solve this, but that ‘technological, behavioural and structural change is the best and only way to reduce emissions’. And to top this, reversing climate change will take a long amount of time due to emissions in the past, as CO2 is still in the atmosphere since humans have been burning vast amounts of fossil fuels.
This big aim is slowly being fulfilled. Action has been taken all around the world, by governments and individuals. In the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has adjusted his green industrial revolution plan, deciding to ban the selling of all new cars powered wholly by petrol and diesel in 2030, 10 years earlier than the original target of 2040.
But is this enough? Some critics argue not enough is being done to tackle the climate crisis, and that the money allocated for the UK government’s 10 point plan for a green industrial revolution is far too small. Let’s all make a difference and help save the planet. This can be by doing small things- using a reusable bag, using public transport more, switching to sustainable energy- the list goes on. For more ideas, have a read of the other blogs or check out SwopItUp’s instagram page.
But the main message here: we can all do something to help protect the future of the earth. Let’s all do our bit.
Sources: BBC News, National Geographic, France 24, The Guardian, NASA