Why the coronavirus outbreak is terrible news for climate change

by James Temple, MIT Technology Review


Highlights

  • First and foremost, the whole point of addressing global warming is to avoid widespread suffering and death, so climate activists should keep this lens
  • Greenhouse gas emissions rebound is likely after the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19), as history tells us for several reasons:
    • If capital markets lock up, it’s going to become very difficult for companies to secure the financing cleantech projects
    • Global oil prices have taken a historic plunge, and cheap gas could make electric vehicles, already more expensive, a harder sell for consumers.
    • China, where the outbreak started, produces a huge share of the world’s solar panels, wind turbines, and lithium-ion batteries that power electric vehicles and grid storage projects. Now Chinese companies are having supply issues as well as declines in production and shipments.
    • Threatened clampdowns on trade with China may further disrupt these clean-energy supply chain and distribution networks
    • More immediate health and financial concerns may divert public attention away from climate change. 
  • However, coronavirus could catalyze some climate action:
    • A sustained drop in oil prices could make longer-term investments in clean energy more attractive for major energy players
    • Some nations may respond to an economic crisis with stimulus efforts that pump money into clean energy and climate adaption
    • Coronavirus could bring about long-lasting shifts in carbon-intensive behaviors, if people remain fearful of flying and cruise ships, or come to prefer remote working and virtual gatherings.
    • Our rapid responses in the face of an acute danger show that we can make the sorts of dramatic societal changes demanded by the climate change

The Climate Center’s vision for hope for a vibrant, healthy, and equitable future for all can be realized with our rapid decarbonization campaign that translates the urgent need for bold action and the groundswell of public support into actual speed and scale greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions.


Read more: https://www.technologyreview.com/s/615338/coronavirus-emissions-climate-change/

Stacey Meinzen
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