COVID-19 IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO RESET OUR ENVIRONMENTAL FUTURE
Local air and water quality have dramatically improved in several areas that have implemented shutdowns.
Emissions have dropped, and worldwide, the demand for coal and oil is lower than it has been in a long time – due in large part to the decline in demand from transport and slowdown in manufacturing.
Reports of animals coming out to breed and play while humans are locked inside are being celebrated, and the profile of the illegal wildlife trade issue has been raised.
But we need to be careful about extrapolating these benefits or claiming an environmental win. The unprecedented situation we are facing at the moment is still unfolding, and much will depend on what happens next.
We can’t tackle climate change the same way that we are approaching coronavirus. Nonetheless, the COVID-19 crisis offers a critical opportunity for the environment in two key respects.
First, the response to COVID-19 has demonstrated what can be done differently.
It’s forced us to alter our behaviour in significant ways, not all of which will necessarily reverse after restrictions are lifted.
In future, we may see less unnecessary interstate and international travel after experiencing success with remote online meetings, conferences, and even court hearings.
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