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Earth day 22 April 2020

One unexpected impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been the improvement in the quality of the environment. Due to lockdown, the amount of industrial activity and vehicular traffic, particularly road and air, has decreased very significantly and the benefits have included reductions in -

  • Air pollution
  • Noise pollution
  • Greenhouse gas emissions

The reduction in road traffic has encouraged more people to reclaim the road space for walking and cycling in many towns and cities thereby improving air quality.

A number of well known people have observed that once the pandemic is over – “ the outbreak has proven that society in its present form is not sustainable and we need to choose a new way forward”. Greta Thunberg also noted “that the global response demonstrated how quickly change could happen when humanity united and acted on the advice of scientists”.

The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, observed “that the pandemic was the biggest threat that the world had faced since 1945 but that the environmental emergency was deeper. He believed that the post pandemic recovery should include –

  • Creation of green jobs whose activities would have little or no environmental impact
  • Taxpayer support for sustainable growth
  • End to fossil fuel subsidies

Pope Francis observed that “ the coronavirus has put a spotlight on values. Today I believe we have to slow down our rate of production and consumption and learn to understand and contemplate the natural world”. He added “ this is the time to take the decisive step and move from misusing nature to contemplating it”.

COP 25 Madrid December 2 to 13

Almost 200 countries are represented at the 25th meeting of the Conference to the Parties of the Kyoto Agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions being held in Madrid.

Ahead of the meeting, the World Meteorological Organisation announced that greenhouse gas concentrations reached their highest recorded level in 2018 and that the year on year increase in emissions was averaging 1.5%. The UN Environment Programme showed that there was a huge gap between the plans that Governments are currently undertaking to cut emissions and what's needed to keep under 1.5 C limit. Staying within this limit, UNEP suggested will need a five-fold increase in the carbon cutting ambitions of some countries

The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned delegates ahead of the meeting "the point of no return was no longer over the horizon". "We simply have to stop digging and drilling and take advantage of the vast possibilities offered by renewable energy and nature-based solutions".

The EU’s Environmental Agency has reported that ‘pursuing economic growth at the expense of the environment was no longer an option as Europe faces unprecedented challenges from climate chaos, pollution, loss of biodiversity and over consumption of natural resources’.

In another analysis led by scientists from the University of California, they reported that ‘climate models dating back to the 1970s are accurately predicting the trend in global heating over the past 50 years’. This suggests projections of future global warming are likely to be accurate too.

[from reports in Guardian newspaper, 01/12/2019 to 04/12/2019]



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