Scenarios for Climate Change after COVID-19 Crisis is over

Climate change has been the number 1 topic in recent years. But today it’s Corona. The only positive impact COVID-19 brought is cleaner air and water. But unfortunately, this change is temporary.

Scenarios for Climate Change after COVID-19 Crisis is over

It’s been predicted that pollution levels will continue to rise once corona is over and everyone is back to normal. There is a clear link between coronavirus and climate change.

According to health experts, this pandemic is a window into upcoming threats climate change may bring.  

According to Climate Mobilization, ‘Only WWII scale climate mobilization can protect humanity and the natural world’. But as per the current situation, we don’t need to look back that far in history to get inspiration.

This pandemic proved that global challenges have no national boundaries. No one is immune to the virus.

There’s no distinction based on economic status, religion, geographical distribution, or caste. And the same is true for climate change.

And most importantly, this pandemic teaches us that government, science, business, and public, if work on a common goal, can fight against anything.

There are two completely different scenarios that may arise after COVID-19 is over, and that all depends on what we learn from this situation. There is a group of people who are optimistic. They strongly believe that if we respond to climate change in the same way as we did for coronavirus, we’ll be able to reduce global carbon emissions, achieve a sustainable economy and reach the 1.5-degree target. On the contrary, there are others who believe that global pollution levels will go much higher than the pre-corona times to recover the economic damage it caused.

Let’s see both perspectives in detail on Climate change when COVID-19 is over.

Scenario #1: Climate change is dealt the same way as COVID-19

Corona has introduced a new trend that is remote working. This lifestyle shift is going to stay even after coronavirus is over. It gives employees the freedom to work from anywhere. Organizations and companies have realized that they can save a lot of money by having smaller offices or none at all. This can bring in huge emission reductions. Business travels will also be replaced with video meetings and teleconferencing.

Moreover, oil demand will be much lower as countries will try to produce more of their own goods. Fast fashion will slowly fade away. This will also affect the shopping trend. People will be more conscious and prefer sustainable products. Online businesses will grow.

And the reason for having high hopes is the public reaction to an emergency. People have adopted major changes. They support the government’s decisions when it comes to health and safety. They have realized that there is a common enemy and it can affect anyone. And they know both individual and collective measures are need of the hour.

Scenario #2: Ignoring the slowly moving but much deadlier climate change

As I mentioned earlier, these changes are likely to be temporary only. In China, carbon dioxide emissions were 25% lower in February due to the closure of coal-fired power stations. But it was back to normal by the end of March. Emissions from transportation are going to bounce back as soon as things get better.  However, aviation emissions are expected to be lower for some time. Industries and factories will start generating the same level of pollution or it may be even greater because there will be an urge to uplift the economy. This also shows the complexity of reducing emissions in an economically sustainable manner.   

The threat from COVID-19 is temporary whereas, the threat from climate change is long-lasting.

Unfortunately, EPA announced that it is suspending enforcement of most of the environmental laws during the ongoing outbreak. But we need to realize that climate change is far worse. The threat from COVID-19 is temporary whereas, the threat from climate change in terms of severe droughts, decreased soil fertility, floods, storms, food shortage, heat waves, greater disease transmission, loss of habitats, species extinction, wildfires, and global warming will be catastrophic, irreversible and long-lasting.

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There are many factors that make climate change much more hazardous than coronavirus such as;

  • Any change in climate takes centuries. In the case of coronavirus, we see outcomes in days and weeks. But the effects of climate change will be here for years.
  • We get daily updates on the number of people affected, died, and recovered from the virus. We cannot quantify the same for climate change.   

Things to learn from this situation

1. Use this time to rethink your priorities 

Coronavirus proved that rapid changes are possible if humanity is united on a common cause.  Lockdown and social distancing cannot mitigate climate change but we surely have a chance to rethink our choices and create a better future.

As Mohamed Adow says “What’s important…is using this opportunity to create better systems and structures that can respond to the climate crisis.”

2. The urgency of swift actions 

There are a lot of things we can learn from this pandemic. First and foremost, if we wait until we see the impact, it is already too late to stop it. It teaches us the importance of taking swift actions. After all, prevention is better than cure. It is safer and cheaper. And especially in the case of climate change, it is much better to prevent hazards than dealing with the enormous consequences.

3. Improving Healthcare systems  

Along with that, we need to be proactive. We need to be prepared for any outbreak and make our health systems more efficient. The concept of sustainable development can also be molded in terms of health. Since our main goal is humanity, we have to work on better health systems not just for now but for coming generations too. We have seen our society transform to combat a universal threat and this will help us to do the same for creating a better planet for our future generations.

4. Understanding the role of government 

Another major factor which I will like to mention here is the role of systematic decisions and global policies. These are the changes that are activated by the government or businesses. Individual behavioral changes are also dependent on them. We need both individual and collective efforts to face any global challenge. And we are witnessing this for over a month or two. We see how governments are taking radical actions and the public adopts the changes quickly.

5. Don’t believe in everything you see

Last but not the least, we need to rationalize our measures based on science. We see a lot of misinformation and myths related to coronavirus all over the internet. The same is the case with climate change. Those countries and individuals are doing better who base their responses as per health professionals’ advice. Similarly, for mitigating climate change in an efficient manner, we will have to take actions according to science and believe only authentic information.

Let us know, on social media, what is your thought on climate change once COVID-19 is over.

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