COVID-19 pandemic and effect on climate

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic rages on, Victor Okunola, the founder of Recycle Edge has taken a futuristic view at the aftermath of COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on climate.

Okunola said that although the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, this kind reduction is not what environmentalists desire. Moreover, it is not sustainable in the long run.

Sharing his informed opinion with Ecoscope, the environmentalist, stated that “the fall in carbon emission which is as a result of the halt is the precise opposite of the drive towards a decarbonised and sustainable circular economy that most climate actors have been advocating for decades.

“Though a global pandemic that has claimed thousands of lives with serious economic impact shouldn’t be perceived as a way of bringing about environmental change, however, it would be fair to say that, it is a blessing in disguise for climate as a rapid and profound impact has been recorded.

“It is imperative to know that the Covid-19 Pandemic is a global catastrophe arising from the clash of nature and modern human activities and its aftermath should promulgate a strong call for global leaders to take precedent actions that will serve as proactive measures to check the doomsday warning that is been communicated by climate actor and activist around the world.”

“Reports have it that compared with this time last year; levels of environmental pollution which includes improper refuse disposal, burning of fossil fuels, plastic pollution, vehicular carbon emission and carbon emission from manufacturing industries in major cities around the world have reduced by nearly 50 per cent because of measures to contain the virus.

“This report has raised concerns and questions such as when the pandemic eventually abates; will carbon emissions “bounce back” so much that it will be as if this clear-skied rest never happened? Or could the changes we currently experience have a more tenacious effect? Well, one significant factor that could influence whether or not carbon or pollutant emissions will bounce back is how long the COVID-19 pandemic lasts and not a single soul on earth wish that it last longer than it has existed.

“However, to maintain the positive effect that has been brought about by the pandemic on climate, Global leaders need to be proactive by incorporating and implementing some of the existing measures of the Covid-19 that will have a continuous effect on the climate.”

Okunlade is of the opinion that certain measures taken during the COVD-19 pandemic can be instituted to sustain climate change mitigation.

One of them, according to him, is the “Force of habit.” He explains: “Just as regular washing of hand and sanitiser application has been regarded as precautionary measures to curtail widespread of the pandemic, people across the globe should now culture themselves against indiscriminate waste disposal and most importantly inculcate habit that will check plastic pollution which is predominant in major cities of the world. In the same vein, the government should enforce environmental laws that will ensure a penalty for violators.”

“Cyber activism” is another helpful measure. The Recycle Edge founder states: “Digital awareness of all forms in different languages has practically shown great impact in information dissemination on precautionary measures to curtail the widespread of COVID-19. This can also be employed towards climate change by raising awareness and getting the world to prepare ahead of another possible global crisis from climate change

“Behavioural changes” and “communal action” are also measures that can be adopted, Okunlade stated.

“The aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic can bring about behavioural changes among individuals. A study conducted by Satoshi Fujii at Kyoto University in Japan found that when a motorway is closed, those who own private cars are compelled to use public transit, the same thing happened when the road reopened, private car owners who had formerly been committed drivers tend to travel more frequently by public transport.

“So, during these unprecedented times of Covid-19 Pandemic, habits that are coincidentally good for the climate might be traveling less or, perhaps, reduction in food waste in various households as we experience shortages due to hoarding.

“Communal action has been regarded as a significant response to the coronavirus outbreak. I am optimistic that the speed and extent of the response during this unprecedented time could also be taken on climate change after the pandemic. This has also revealed the difference that communities can make when they look out for each other and that’s one lesson that could be invaluable in dealing with climate change.”

Concluding he added that “In spite of the corresponding measures, the global leaders should also take a keen interest in looking holistically at existing practices such as recycling whose impact on climate cannot be overemphasized.

“On this note, it is quite revealing that policy changes required to mitigate climate change have less disruptive implications on economic, social and cultural values of the world than all the measures that is being implemented to tackle Covid-19. Hence, Individuals, concerned government agencies, stakeholders, and most importantly carbon-emitting industries should envisage the implementation of the corresponding measures to check and curtail another global issue like climate change that is knocking on the door of planet earth.”


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