The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in economic slowdowns, closed businesses, and a steep rise in unemployment. Pollution levels seem to be going down too, but only initially. At first, the CO2 emission levels were going low, thanks to lockdowns and curfews. However, as governments liberated the lockdown policy for the sake of the economy, emission rates started reaching pre-COVID-19 levels again.
“This has been an unprecedented year for people and the planet. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted lives worldwide. At the same time, the heating of our planet and climate disruption has continued apace,” stated UN Secretary-General António Guterres.
United in Science 2020 published a report highlighting various effects and patterns of climate change. They also concentrated on its impact on ice, glaciers, oceans, and humankind as a whole. The second report used facts and data in coordination with various organizations, including the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Global Carbon Projects, Intergovernmental Panel on climate change, UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, the UK Met Office, and the UN Environment Program.
WMO has reported that the CO2 level has been rising above the threshold (410 ppm) in places like Mauna Lao (414.38 ppm) and Cape Grim (410.04 ppm) in the first half of 2020.
Meanwhile, the Global Carbon Project found out that the CO2 emission under the COVID-19 lockdown dropped by 17% compared to 2019. Although, as the lockdowns became lenient, the level grew back up to only 5% below the 2019 level in June 2020.
Reasons for Increase in CO2 Emissions
Fossil CO2 emissions are due to human consumption. And it escalates every day. Also, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is already relatively high, and the COVID-related reduction didn’t have a lasting effect. But as we all know, small changes can still lead to a bigger transformation. Therefore, a continuous decrease in CO2 emissions can help us reach our net-zero emission goal sooner.
Additionally, WMO and the UK’s Met office determined that from 2020 to 2024, there is a high possibility of a 1.5° C temperature rise compared to pre-industrial levels. Also, the global sea-levels continue to rise, and there is greater glacier mass loss. All of these are a result of human-induced climate changes.
According to an Intergovernmental Panel in Climate Change, these climate changes also pose a big threat to life-sustaining systems. The oceans are becoming warmer, which can have a negative effect on numerous ecosystems.
Climate Change and its Effect on Water Resources
WMO also reported the impact of climate change on water resources. They anticipate that the probability of flooding will increase by 2050. Thus, the number of people suffering from water scarcity will increase from 2.7 billion to 3.2 billion by 2050. Moreover, as the glaciers continue to melt, various areas have already reached their peak water level. And, it’s only going to get even worse.
The UN Environment Program focused on bridging the emission gaps. Moreover, they reported that the transformational action of the Paris Agreement is a priority. This agreement focuses on the estimated emission cut required to keep global warming under control. Their findings also state that bridging the emission gap is still possible if we take instant actions.
The International Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO and WMO also reported that due to unpredictable climate and ocean-level changes, the weather forecast quality had declined tremendously. The reading derived from various instruments has errors, which can be a problem to design future policies.
“We must turn the recovery from the pandemic into a real opportunity to build a better future,” stated Mr. Guterres on how this pandemic can be game-changing in terms of climate-changes. The pandemic has been an opportunity to monitor and analyze the wrong and finds solutions. With the economy slowing down, now is the perfect time to plan and execute the environment-friendly models.
What We Need to Do
A significant source of emission is transportation, which can be controlled with electric propulsion. It is also dependent on us how we want to see our future. Even baby steps, like the transformation from fuel-based to electric-based vehicles, will contribute to positive changes. Taking care of our surroundings and performing forestation are other steps that can make a change. Let’s join our hands and fight against the COVID-19 and climate change. It will make lives better for everybody!