Covid-19 and Climate Change

We always knew that climate change was going to be disruptive and take millions of lives – we just thought that it was going to happen at some distant point in the future under someone else’s watch. Despite the millions of conspiracy theories and news, It is not correct to see “Nature” has done this with any sentient purpose. No, Climate Change Isn’t Out To Get You!

Only an imminent and catastrophic threat like Covid-19 could have contributed to such a dramatic transformation as soon as possible; at the time of writing, 300,000 deaths have occurred, with more than 5 million infections reported globally, and millions of people who have not contracted the disease have adapted their way of life.

A global pandemic that is claiming people’s lives certainly shouldn’t be seen as a way of bringing about environmental change but we cannot deny that there is some form of correlation since they both require human activity. Can the COVID-19 be correlated to climate change/global warming?

Climate and COVID-19 is an unfathomable pairing of catastrophes. One will surely intersect with the other in ways not yet clear. To get a clear idea let us examine some data. When global warming takes hold there could be as many as 200 million people overtaken by disruptions of monsoon systems and other rainfall regimes, by droughts of unprecedented severity and duration, and by sea-level rise and coastal flooding. Oh! and let’s not forget the heat! 

Air pollution is a serious health risk. It kills approximately 7 million people every year and is responsible for one-third of all deaths from stroke, lung cancer, and heart disease. Over 90 percent of the world's population lives in parts of the world where the WHO's outdoor air quality standards limits are not met, and about two- thirds of this exposure is triggered by the combustion of fossil fuels, which further drives climate change.

Mosquito-transmitted diseases, such as dengue and malaria, are more widespread as climate change makes larger areas warm enough for these insects to thrive. These are just a few effects of climate change we are currently experiencing.

So what has Covid-19 changed? 

China has imposed a ban on all trading and consumption of wildlife. China's wildlife farming industry is estimated at $74 billion, and now it's shut down. While there are already several ambiguous points about the ban and how it will be enforced internationally, at least this is a positive indication. People are more aware of global-scale events. Let us not lie here, it felt a bit like a movie, a disease that’s released in one continent and within a month, everything we knew was restricted. Then the cases started coming in 2s and 4s, and now in 1000s all over the world, everyone has a COVID-19 story to tell.

Our mutual understanding that things can still affect us regardless of where we are in the world has brought about a new level of critical thinking that will be applied to other such events, cue climate change. Interestingly, there has been a significant decrease in emissions in the regions most impacted by COVID-19. If there are similar intense lockdowns in many of the densely populated areas of the world, there might well be a measurable impact. Without any ongoing work to keep this trend, however, the effects will be transitory and ineffectual as the restrictions are lifted. The massive global response to COVID-19 leads us to the question:

What can we take from the pandemic to tackle the climate crisis?

For climate change, Governments need to back clean technologies and end subsidies to polluting industries. Reducing emissions to the level set out by scientists in the IPCC study involves a major cut in the fossil fuel industry and a full overhaul of how we do business. The amount of economic uncertainty and employment cuts that would occur would be unparalleled.

There are a few actions governments and people all over the world can take for a climate-positive recovery; Deliver new jobs and businesses through a green transition while accelerating the decarbonization of all aspects of the economy.

Use taxpayers’ money to create green jobs and inclusive growth when rescuing businesses. Shift economies from grey to green, using public financing that makes societies more resilient. Invest public funds in the future, to projects that help the environment and climate. Consider risks and opportunities for the economy, as the global financial system works to shape policy and infrastructure. Work together as an international community to combat climate change.

Will Covid-19 have a lasting impact on the environment?

Moments of crisis are always moments of opportunity. As industries, transport networks, and businesses have closed down, it has brought a sudden drop in carbon emissions. These emissions have fallen in the short term in countries where public health measures, such as keeping people in their homes, have cut unnecessary travel. Driving and aviation are key contributors to emissions from transport. Pollution and greenhouse gas emissions have fallen across continents as countries try to contain the spread of the new coronavirus. Is this just a fleeting change, or could it lead to longer-lasting falls in emissions?

It is still a bit early to tell, however, climate change activists have seen a general surge in interest during the pandemic. the images on social media comparing smog-filled and smog-free locations across the globe have left a lasting effect on the minds of all and sundry. it is certainly within the premise to claim that yes, it has. whether its a positive or negative one, that is debatable.

How prepared is Nigeria to deal with climate change and epidemics?

Accelerated global warming has caused extreme climatic changes all over the globe. Nigeria has risen to the challenges presented with a valiant spirit however we need to focus on a few key areas to keep one foot in the door, metaphorically speaking. We know from social science research that interventions are more effective if they take place during moments of change.

Efforts towards reducing environmental or social harm should be encouraged and measures put to punish companies and governments who flout regulations. The Niger Delta needs to be cleaned up and we need to fight desert encroachment from the north, the timber industry needs to be regulated heavily. and there needs to be massive sensitization towards green energy and climate change effects.

There are also a few other positive outcomes for Nigeria in the Health sector as we are seeing a massive upsurge in financial contributions, the goal for the government is to maintain the momentum and ensure that the gains are not temporary. There should be checks and balances to fish out corrupt entities in the health sector.

The demand for oil products, steel, and other metals has fallen more than other outputs. But there are record-high stockpiles, so production will quickly pick up. We should be looking at diversification and ensuring that the losses from the recent pandemic do not escalate into double-digits recession.

 

 

References:

https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-on-climate-change-and-covid-19

https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/04/1062752

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7102555/

https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg24532763-500-our-approach-to-covid-19-can-also-help-

tackle-climate-chang/

This article was written by Kenechukwu Nwaezuoke He is a content writer at The Young Leaders Council

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