On one end of the spectrum, the USA Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had announced to temporarily ease the enforcement of environmental regulations amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic so as to assist companies to pull back the economy.
On the other end, there is a minuscule minority of countries that have taken a stand for environmental protection.
Like the CoVID virus, Climate change also doesn’t distinguish between borders and nationalities – both are impartial
Amidst severe financial impacts created due to the pandemic, governments all over the globe struggle to find a balance with economic priorities & the health crisis – and the worry is that environmental measures might take a back seat.
“Just because we’re in one crisis right now doesn’t mean we can forget about the other one — the climate crisis that we are also facing as a world and as a country”
– That’s the statement from Candian prime minister Justin Trudeau.
Well said sir, as millions suffer from the effects of a viral pandemic, that does not mean we should forget the horrors of climate change. In the endeavor to revive the economy, any misguided decision can weaken international efforts to combat climate change and air pollution.
Moreover, as part of the Paris Agreement, many countries have agreed to submit updated climate plans to 2030 and long-term decarbonization strategies to the UN before the end of the year. The goal of the agreement is to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 °C.
Bunch of Suggestions
So what can governments do in these testing times, below are a bunch of the actions at a very very high level that can be taken by the government with respect to “greening the recovery”.
- Any financial package from the government to carbon-intensive businesses should include provisions for reducing carbon emissions
- Phasing out dependence on coal, invest in low carbon infrastructure and capacity-building initiatives.
- Prioritizing investments in clean transport, sustainable product development, waste management, and renewable energy
- Leverage green-bonds to mobilize finances for investments in green initiatives with adequate disclosures.
- Increase the carbon price – a cost applied to carbon pollution to encourage polluters to reduce the greenhouse gases they emit into the atmosphere
- Incentivize business that employs green technology practices with lower taxes
- Introduce favorable policies and special programs for cleantech & green startups
Having said that, below is a quick rundown of what some of the countries across the world are doing with respect to environmental measures.
The European Union (EU) Commission has outlined a plan that will put its Green Deal at the center of the recovery efforts.
Many of the countries in the EU want an increased investment to support renewable energy, clean mobility, energy efficiency to back the Green Deal.
Germany and France have jointly announced to reaffirm the Green Deal as the growth strategy and a blueprint to achieve carbon-neutrality by 2050.
GDP (nominal): US $18,705 billion. Share in Global Economy: 21.3%
The biggest economy from European Union is Germany. Here is a video from the World Economic Forum giving some details on the country’s plans for sustainable development.
GDP (nominal): US $3,863 billion. Share in Global Economy: 4.4%
The Canadian government has announced a major stimulus package of which most of the money goes for cleaning up old and abandoned wells across the region, which the government estimates will preserve more than 5,000 jobs in one region alone.
Another component goes towards – repayable contributions to oil and gas producers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Officials say the fund will create up to 10,000 new jobs.
GDP (nominal): US $1,730 billion. Share in Global Economy: 2%
The newly elected South Korea government will move ahead with its widely campaigned Green New Deal to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. South Korea is the first country in East Asia to make this commitment.
The country’s plan includes 37% emissions reduction by 2030, massive investments in renewable energy, phase-out domestic & international coal projects, the introduction of a carbon tax, and provide assistance to workers move to green jobs.
GDP (nominal): US $1,629 billion. Share in Global Economy: 1.9%
The country has set a domestic target to reduce net emissions of greenhouse gases other than biogenic methane to zero by 2050. The plan includes an independent Climate Change Commission, which is tasked with preparing risk assessments, monitoring implementation, and make recommendations.
GDP (nominal): US $204 billion. Share in Global Economy: 0.2%
The world needs positive examples of strong global leadership to help carve a path forward on bringing a positive change.
Some of the countries are showing that working on environmental protection, economic activity and dealing with health issues can go hand in hand even in the midst of the worst global pandemic
While the government is one of the major and primary stakeholders in the fight against climate change but it is also upon people to show their appreciation and active participation. A more collaborative approach is needed between citizens, corporates, authorities, civil society along with government bodies.
We have already witnessed the positive impact of lockdown in the wake of the COVID 19 crisis that eventually resulted in a decline of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, better air quality, and cleaner water bodies.
Note: The GDP (nominal) numbers are as per the International Monetary Fund (2019 estimates)