The skies are blue over parts of China and Italy. Peak-hour traffic in New York City has dropped between 13.5% and 26% according to GPS-navigation firm TomTom. Government shutdowns of major industries in China have caused an estimated 25% drop in emissions of CO2 in February. As the world slows down to combat the spread of COVID-19, Nature has begun to return to its natural rhythm. A somewhat silver lining during a time of fear and uncertainties.
But when life begins to return to "normal", can these numbers continue to drop? Can the environment continue on its road to recovery unhindered, maybe even with help from us humans? I guess that all depends on how we, and by "we" I mean the governments around the world, decide to come out of this and get economies back on track. Canada is preparing a massive bailout for its oil and gas industry. Multiple provinces in China have floated the idea of pumping money into construction, and the United States is set to bail out the airline industry.
After the 2008 financial crises, 2009 saw worldwide CO2 emissions drop by 1.4%. Just a year later, they were back growing again, faster than they had since 2003. Why? Because many of the government bailouts after the financial crash promoted the growth of carbon-producing industries such as construction and the airlines.
How will governments choose to get their economies back on track? Will they fall back on similar patterns of boosting fossil-fuel producing industries? Or maybe, just maybe, this will begin the shift into a greener future where environmentally friendlier versions of the fossil fuel industry are created.
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