With people self-isolating, avoiding fume-emitting cars and planes and staying away from rivers and coastal areas, the Earth seems to be taking a breather.  Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)
With people self-isolating, avoiding fume-emitting cars and planes and staying away from rivers and coastal areas, the Earth seems to be taking a breather. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Fewer carbons emissions during Covid-19 period helping the Earth

By Sukaina Ishmail Time of article published Mar 25, 2020

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Cape Town - With people self-isolating, avoiding fume-emitting cars and planes and staying away from rivers and coastal areas, the Earth seems to be taking a breather, with climate change slowing.

WWF South Africa policy analyst Prabhat Upadhyaya said the short-term reductions of carbon emissions and air pollution due to the Covid-19 outbreak could possibly improve the local responses of the government towards this global challenge.

“A warming planet will make our cities and ecosystems less resilient and will put people and economies at risk of a global crisis, therefore it’s important this outbreak is used to deeply reflect on our relationship with nature. Covid-19 brings forth the fragility of our systems as well as its resilience to cope with a global risk,” he said.

Extinction Rebellion spokesperson Michael Wolf said behavioural measures taken by people relating to Covid-19 may not have many direct effects on their environmental behaviour; however, they are exploring more environmentally friendly ways such as video calls instead of driving to meetings and less use of public transport. Fruit and vegetables in plastic wrappings will take preference over unwrapped goods.

“We’re hopeful that this crisis will make people and governments more sensitive to the global challenge of climate change, which will be far more disastrous than Covid-19’s worst-case scenario if we don’t act together,” Wolf said.

Upadhyaya said greenhouse gases would be reduced due to the lower number of vehicles and people in the streets. However, one needed to be wary of the rebound effect as companies tried to compensate for the losses incurred during this time.

UCT’s Professor Harald Winkler said: “The greenhouse gases will decrease during this time as a result of a decline in economic activities. They will rise again afterwards, but at least from a lower point. If we return to our old behaviours after this, then we could miss an opportunity to make a difference towards the issue of climate change.”

@Sukainaish

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Cape Argus

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