The Daily Mail has given its lead op-ed slot to the veteran environmental journalist Geoffrey Lean to remark that the Covid-19 lockdown means the “environment has improved in one fell swoop”. After citing Carbon Brief research about China’s temporary 25% emissions decline, he continues: “The choice is no longer between changing how we do things and business as usual, but between rapid change and a series of environmental disasters that devastate the world economy. Terrible and destructive though it is, the coronavirus crisis provides a pause for thought. It has revealed gaping cracks in our present system, and has already dramatically shifted what is thought to be possible. The environment and the economy, once thought irreconcilable, are increasingly seen to be inseparable. The economy, as Covid-19 has made painfully clear, is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment, dependent on healthy natural systems. And green investment is increasingly recognised as the best route to prosperity…Imminent decisions could determine whether the world embraces the huge opportunity for low-carbon, environmentally attuned prosperity or tries to claw its way back to the old, unsustainable status quo.”
Elsewhere, there is more comment and analysis looking into how coronavirus may affect efforts to tackle climate change. Writing in the Daily Telegraph, former foreign secretary and Conservative party leader William Hague argues that a firmer line must be taken against China, but adds: “We cannot solve the world’s problems without China. If we want to prevent catastrophic climate change, as well as promote global health, protect bio-diversity, save the oceans, stop nuclear proliferation, restore a prosperous global economy and prevent dangerous new arms races on Earth and in space, we need the Chinese and they need us.” For EurActiv, Annika Hedberg, head of the Sustainable Prosperity for Europe Programme at the Brussels thinktank European Policy Centre, argues the virus should be used as a catalyst to get the EU on a more sustainable track and accelerate efforts towards net-zero emissions. She writes: “With travel and traffic heavily reduced, production processes disrupted and people consuming less, we can expect a short-term reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. This is already evident in China as well as in Europe…However, these reductions are happening for the wrong reasons and are not an answer to the ongoing climate crisis.” Clyde Russell, energy columnist at Reuters, argues that renewable energy could “win” over oil and gas in a post-coronavirus world. He says: “The coronavirus is likely to change the market dynamics of the various types of energy, and mostly in favour of renewables such as wind, solar and hydropower. The outbreak had already wrought radical change in two different ways. The first is that the oil-and-gas industry has been shaken to its core, while the second is that the cost of capital is at record lows, and there will be billions of dollars of stimulus spending looking for a home.” James Murray, editor of BusinessGreen, highlights new analysis from the banking giant Morgan Stanley that suggests coronavirus “won’t derail decarbonisation”. Elsewhere, in BusinessGreen, researchers Marcus Enoch and James Warren presents a “once in a lifetime chance” to change the way we travel. Benjamin Sorrow, a reporter at E&E News, count five ways the economic upheaval caused by coronavirus may affect global emissions. Meanwhile, in Forbes, scientist and writer Prof Laura Tenebaum reminds readers that “climate change hasn’t gone away just because of [coronavirus]”.