Two scenarios for a green recovery are outlined. “Moderate” green spending sees an additional 0.8% of GDP going to low-carbon energy and efficiency measures and 0.3% less going to fossil fuels, compared to current policies, while “strong” green stimulus results in 1.2% more and 0.4% less, respectively. These pathways result in 35% and 52% decreases in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
“There’s really an opportunity to build a different supply chain, or a tributary to the supply web,” says Lauren Scott, chief marketing officer of the Produce Marketing Association. “Something that’s truly sustainable, that the food banks could count on and use.” Key to it, she says, is developing a system where farmers and distributors are paid fairly—and figuring it out now, not during the next wave of a pandemic or other crisis.
For decades, extreme heatwaves, hurricanes, fires, floods, and droughts have led to disease, injury and death, while also impacting our food supply and water resources.. Every year for the last five years, there were 10 or more extreme climate disasters that cost more than $1 billion. Fossil-fuel driven outdoor air pollution kills more than 4.5 million people each year globally and new research shows exposure to air pollution increases the severity and death rate from COVID-19, with communities of color bearing the brunt of these disproportionate COVID-19 and climate deaths.
Right now, there are two million Americans without running water to wash their hands. Millions more have had water service cut off because they couldn’t pay their bills. Many water utilities are facing financial challenges that could delay key infrastructure investments and lead to rate increases that exacerbate existing affordability issues. Staffing shortages due to illness and quarantine are threatening the operation of treatment plants and slowing the maintenance of water and sewer pipes.
These “green-growthers” argue that new low-carbon technologies, combined with a steady shift toward producing more services (think day-care centers or community theater), can make continued growth sustainable. This kind of “have your cake and eat it too” mentality has become the dominant way of thinking about how to turn the giant, fossil-fuel spewing world economy around.
The push to name heatwaves is backed by the Extreme Heat Resilience Alliance (EHRA), a new coalition of 30 big-city mayors and insurance officials, as well as health, climate change and policy experts from around the globe.Unlike floods or storms, heatwaves are largely an unseen risk, with many deaths occurring inside homes and losses apparent only when "excess deaths" above normal rates of mortality are examined, public health researchers say. Heat deaths can occur from dehydration, heat stroke, kidney failure or as existing health problems are aggravated, the World Health Organization says.
In a survey we at the Harris Poll conducted last December, American adults said climate change was the number one issue facing society. Today, it comes in second to last on a list of a dozen options, ahead of only overpopulation. Among Gen X men, in fact, more than third dismiss climate change as unimportant. COVID-19 and the recession have, of course, reordered priorities around the world. Still, the coronavirus didn’t elbow aside other issues as muscularly as it did climate change. (Incidentally, global warming is a bigger concern to retirement-age women than any other age group except millennial men.)
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, forest loss alerts have increased by 77 percent compared to the average from 2017-2019, according to data from Global Land Analysis and Discovery (GLAD) — a worldwide warning system for the depletion of tree cover — and compiled by conservation body WWF Germany. GLAD’s alerts are based on satellite detection of tree cover loss. While they cannot definitively be attributed to deforestation or logging, they are the best global indicator of land change over time.
A day after Britain recorded its hottest August day in 17 years at 36.4° Celsius (97.5° Fahrenheit) much of its southern coastline was packed with visitors, many of whom had been forced to abandon more exciting foreign holidays because of Covid-19 travel restrictions. Authorities in Bournemouth, home to a seven-mile golden stretch of beach, warned that most of the beach was so busy that "safe social distancing is not possible" and urged people to stay away. There was a similar story across other parts of Europe, where many residents endured weeks of lockdown earlier this year.
The point is not whether suburbs or cities are more hospitable to microbes, or whether a pandemic that has scoured virtually the entire world prefers its victims Democratic or Republican. Those are both pointlessly parochial comparisons. Humans have both clustered and spread out as long as they have formed societies, and both forms of living have survived lethal vulnerabilities. The hypothetical downsides of density won’t kill off city living any more than the well-documented climatic effects of car travel have shrunken suburbs.
a group of experts from the University of Petroleum and Energy Studies in Dehradun, India, has suggested an alternative: PPE should be liquefied into “renewable” fossil fuels and burned. It’s a process called pyrolysis — also known as “chemical recycling” — and it uses heat to break down plastic in a deoxygenated environment, turning it into liquid oil that can then be burned for energy. In a paper published Tuesday in the journal Biofuels, researchers said it was the most common and most promising method for degrading polypropylene, a main ingredient in N95 respirators, surgical masks, and single-use protective gowns. Compared to landfilling and plastic incineration, they called chemical recycling an “environmentally friendly” alternative.
So what in January 2020 seemed to me like distinct preoccupations - when you’re a “climate political economy” person, you spend your time thinking about capitalism and Exxon, not epidemiology and wet markets - these things were in fact profoundly related. So, for example, those of us working on climate political economy had been developing this scenario we call the “climate Minsky moment” - a market collapse triggered by a sudden devaluation of key assets as a result of climate change and/or of a governmental response to climate change.
But the analysis also shows that putting the huge sums of post-Covid-19 government funding into a green recovery and shunning fossil fuels will give the world a good chance of keeping the rise in global temperatures below 1.5C. The scientists said we are now at a “make or break” moment in keeping under the limit – as compared with pre-industrial levels – agreed by the world’s governments to avoid the worst effects of global heating.
The big picture: Economic shutdowns around the world in response to the coronavirus choked off oil demand at a time when the industry was already awash in too much of the fuel and struggling financially. Now, the world may be changing in permanent ways that tilt society away from what has been a steadily growing demand for oil despite rising concerns about its impact on the planet. “The coronavirus crisis has, all of a sudden, accelerated at least the potential that oil demand will plateau,” said Martijn Rats, global oil strategist at Morgan Stanley. Persistently low oil prices are making other sources more intriguing investments. “The profitability of investing in renewables versus oil and gas is an awful lot closer now.”
Covid-19 has made us aware of our vulnerability – and has justified extreme measures. Lockdowns have been an extended period of reflection. The worldwide chaos caused by Covid-19 is not a result of climate change, but the scale of disruption is comparable, in many ways, to a world where climate change is left unchecked. The pandemic has let us experience the very real global disruption wrought by a seemingly science-fiction-like natural event that arrives gradually, but inexorably, and quickly bulldozes through our entire social and economic system.