Novel coronavirus spread may hinder climate change goals progressMarch 16, 2020
Countries and organizations may face additional challenges to control global emissions due to COVID-19.
As world leaders expand their efforts to meet climate change goals regarding greenhouse gas emissions, the spread of COVID-19 may present a substantial unexpected barrier.
This was meant to be a meaningful year in the international battle against humanity’s carbon footprint.
The rapid and unexpected spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus is creating a substantial number of threats to those efforts to meet climate change goals. This could cause substantial harm to the progress of the Paris Agreement effort for combatting global warming trends, say experts.
The spreading disease is a challenge to environmental action on many different levels. To start, the coronavirus has already stood in the way of critical negotiations meant to take place ahead of the Glasgow conference scheduled for November. Without those negotiations, it will be even more challenging to the Paris Agreement’s emissions reducing success.
Moreover, the outbreak and everything related to it may shake political will during this critical moment in the progress toward these environmental targets. This is particularly true as the public takes its focus away from climate change in order to focus on the immediate health issues in front of them. Politicians may look to the return to burning fossil fuels for the purpose of attempting to kickstart the world economy.
At this critical time in reaching climate change goals, COVID-19 has changed the focus of the world.
“Everybody’s going to be putting safety first right now,” said Matthew McKinnon, an advisor to a group of nations particularly vulnerable to global warming trends. “And whether or not safety first aligns with climate first is going to vary from place to place.”
The Paris Agreement’s targets are meant to drive countries to announce new emissions reduction pledges in 2020 before meeting at the Glasgow summit. If they are unable to follow through with this purpose, policymakers will be forced to step back from a cycle of important climate change goals conferences that have been ongoing for decades. Alternately, the only option will be to accept that the world will fail to meet its temperature limiting targets.