Covid-19: a threat to climate action

While the Covid-19 crisis may prove conducive to a drop in global carbon emissions in 2020, having triggered one of the most striking collapses in oil prices in the past 30 years, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), several international actors and observers are concerned about the threat that it could pose to long-term climate action.

IEA Executive Director, Fatih Birol, recommends that the stimulus packages currently being prepared by governments provide for large-scale investments to encourage the roll-out and integration of clean energy technologies, as they will deliver the twofold benefit of boosting the economy and accelerating clean energy transitions.
Andrew Norton, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) Director, is not slow to warn against an interruption in climate talks in the light of COP26, scheduled to be held in Glasgow in late 2020 and postponed until 2021. In his view, while the whole political process leading up to the climate summit, including the postponement of crucial preparatory meetings, can be effectively and fairly handled in a virtual setting, the situation carries a risk: without face-to-face meetings, the voice of populations from the most vulnerable countries may not be heard.
Another warning in a Bloomberg New Energy Finance* note states that the coming year could mark the first drop in solar power growth worldwide since the 1980s. Analysts have lowered their forecasts for new solar power projects by 8%. A slowdown in electric vehicle sales is also expected. Among the first symptoms is the postponement by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) of talks on the energy efficiency of ships by the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), which was set to meet in London from March 30 to April 3.
In the New York Times, a “politics and psychology” article considers what climate change can teach us about fighting Covid-19 and notes that “change is hard when there’s a powerful industry blocking it” and “as with climate change, our collective ability to confront the pandemic is shaped by our brains.” Before concluding: “We are bad at thinking about tomorrow.”
*Covid-19 – The Low-Carbon Crisis,” by Michael Liebreich - Senior Contributor – BloombergNEF - March 26, 2020

© Flo Rols / Pacific Press / REX / SIPA