A few weeks ago, I wrote on TransportXtra regarding warnings of the need to embed plans for long term decarbonisation in order to achieve positive impacts post lockdown. Sadly, the opportunities for Governments to move quickly to lock in benefits seem to be being missed.
We're seeing policymakers prioritising the climate less than other economic issues. And so there's a real worry that even though emissions will fall in 2020, we might also see a slowdown in the rate of decarbonisation, and that slowdown might have a bigger longer term impact on our emissions than a blip that happens just this year
Carbon dioxide emissions have rebounded around the world as lockdown conditions have eased, raising fears that annual emissions of greenhouse gases could surge to higher than ever levels after the coronavirus pandemic, unless governments take swift action, writes The Guardian.
It says: ‘Emissions for the year to date, from 1 January to 11 June, are 8.6% lower than in the same period for 2019, and emissions for the whole of this year are likely to be between 4% and 7% lower than for the whole of last year. That is not enough to make a significant contribution to the cuts in emissions needed to fulfil the Paris agreement on climate change, which will require structural changes to transport systems and how energy is generated.’
Back in May, a new Working Paper from Oxford Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment identified several COVID recovery policies that can deliver both economic and climate goals – including transport decarbonisation and net-zero infrastructure. Such stimulus policies would deliver large economic multipliers, reasonably quickly, and 'shift our emissions trajectory towards net zero.
'There are reasons to fear that we will leap from the COVID frying pan into the climate fire,' writes Hepburn, author of the Oxford study.
This view is in line with work done by Zeke Hausfather, the Director of Climate and Energy at The Breakthrough Institute, who says: 'The temporary nature of COVID-19 impacts on emissions — and its minimal effects on long-term climate change — highlights the fact that technology-driven decarbonising is the only sustainable pathway to achieve long-term reductions in Co2 emissions.'
2020 emissions may fall slightly, but long-term decarbonisation is vital. Speaking to the BBC in May, Hausfather said: 'What matters is how much we emit over the next hundred years. Technology and decarbonisation are the real solutions.
'Currently, while global economic activity is slowing down, we're also seeing less solar and wind being deployed. We're seeing less people buy electric vehicles. We're seeing policymakers prioritising the climate less than other economic issues. And so there's a real worry that even though emissions will fall in 2020, we might also see a slowdown in the rate of decarbonisation, and that slowdown might have a bigger longer term impact on our emissions then a blip that happens just this year.'
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