As we begin the recovery from the impacts of COVID-19 will our global environment once again start to suffer. Or, will people now decide that the time is right to truly come together to protect the environment and ensure we maintain the cleaner atmosphere we have all had a taste of during the lock-down?
Do people believe that the climate crisis is as serious as Covid-19?
A recent Ipsos survey showed that 71% of adults globally agree that, in the long term, the climate crisis is as serious as the Covid-19 pandemic.
The survey (conducted online among more than 28,000 adults between April 16 – 19 2020) also shows widespread support of the need for governments to take actions to prioritise the climate crisis in the economic recovery post-COVID-19, at 65%.
Climate Change: Could the coronavirus crisis spur a green recovery?
During lock-down we have seen strict lockdowns, extensive travel restrictions, shops, pubs, restaurants, bars closing down, factories slowing down, flights cancelled, power stations shutting down and people being told not to commute and to stay indoors.
It should be no surprise therefore that as result pollution and greenhouse gas emissions fell across continents and air quality improved. The International Energy Agency predicts that global CO2 emissions will have declined by 8% in 2020 – to levels last seen 10 years ago.
So, in the short-term, we have all had a taste of what we need to do to protect the global environment. But, the challenge to everyone in society now is how we can replicate this effect without the devastating impact on economies and peoples lives we are now beginning to see. Widespread job losses, slow economic activity, stock markets being volatile and livelihoods being at risk is precisely the opposite of the drive towards a decarbonised, sustainable economy that many have been advocating for decades.
As industries, cars, and planes restart we are already seeing that emissions are returning back to their pre lockdown levels. When the pandemic eventually subsides, it seems likely that carbon and pollutant emissions will “bounce back” so much that could be as if this clear-skied interlude never happened.
There is also a worse scenario, because global climate-change conferences have been put on-hold that may push back government action. As economies rush to recover that could also mean green initiatives are put to one side. That could mean we actually see a worsening of the environment situation in a similar way as we saw after the 2008 recession. Can we let that happen?
“Build Back Better”
More than 200 top UK firms and investors are calling on the government to deliver a Covid-19 recovery plan that prioritises the environment and the government have now in principle committed themselves to the so-called Green New Deal slogan “Build Back Better”.
Signatories to the letter include Lloyds Bank, Asda, Siemens and Sky and have proposed that measures taken to repair the economy should support the government’s commitment to tackle the climate change crisis and that ministers should use the Covid-19 lockdown as a springboard to propel a green economy.
Proposals outlined in the letter include:
- Driving investment in low carbon innovation, infrastructure and industries.
- Focusing support on sectors that can best support the environment, increase job creation and foster the recovery – whilst also decarbonising the economy (that includes planting trees)
- Putting strings on financial support to ensure firms getting bailout cash are well managed and in step with climate goals.
UK Public Supports a Green Recovery
Climate Assembly UK, a group of 108 individuals representing the wider population have found that people are prepared to adopt many of the lifestyle changes enforced the lockdown in order to tackle climate change in order to meet the government’s 2050 target of net-zero emissions.
Almost 80% said measures the government will take to aid economic recovery should be designed with net-zero in mind. One member commented that ‘it feels climate change is as big a crisis as Covid19’.
In fact in the UK the green economy is already booming in some ways according to the Guardian with a huge surge in demand for bicycles and related repairs, the sale of electric scooters and even enquiries into electric vehicles. There has already been an acceleration in the development of sustainability even without government incentives and assistance.
What we believe at Covid 19 Memorial Forest Fund
We believe that it is a fitting way to keep pushing the green agenda by planting a sustainable Covid 19 Memorial Forest to help remember those we have lost to Covid19 and also to celebrate the strength of human spirit our nation has demonstrated. This could create more than 100 acres of green, open and natural space for people and wildlife as well as offsetting 124 million miles of carbon.
The Covid 19 Memorial Forest is, we believe, one small project of many we need to address as a nation to protect the environment if we are serious about protecting our planet and the lives of our children’s generation. We believe that if people can come together around the planting of Covid19 Memorial Forest this will leave a legacy that helps protect the environment today and for future generations.
More importantly, it will help show that ordinary people can come together in times of need to make a positive change in the world – just as people did when we all came together to support each other through the worst stages of the Covid19 tragedy.