Our response to this health crisis will shape the climate crisis for decades to come. The efforts to revive economic activity — the stimulus plans, bailouts and back-to-work programs being developed now — will help determine the shape of our economies and our lives for the foreseeable future, and they will have effects on carbon emissions that reverberate across the planet for thousands of years.
New York Times 27th March 2020 read more »
As the coronavirus pandemic has sent governments scrambling to respond, many politicians have drawn a parallel with another global threat: climate change. “We have to act dramatically, boldly, if we’re going to save lives in this country and around the world,” Bernie Sanders, one of the Democratic presidential contenders, said recently. “I look at climate change in the exact same way.” Yet while the principles may be the same, the politics of the two pressing challenges are very different. The analogies between the coronavirus and climate change are easy to understand. The radical measures adopted to fight the pandemic look like precedents for addressing the potentially greater danger from climate change. Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, has suggested that the need for widespread intervention by governments to prevent economic collapse should be seen as a “historic opportunity” to direct energy investment into technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Large-scale investment to support solar and wind power, batteries, hydrogen and carbon capture and storage would “bring the twin benefits of stimulating economies and accelerating clean energy transitions,” he wrote earlier this month.
FT 30th March 2020 read more »
Michael Liebreich, BloombergNEF: At the end of last year, in a comment piece for BloombergNEF entitled Peak Emissions Are Closer Than You Think, I predicted that energy-related CO2 emissions would peak and then drop by around 5% within the next decade. Never before has one of my big predictions been proven quite so right quite so quickly – albeit for entirely unforeseen and tragic reasons. It now looks like emissions could easily drop by 5% or more this year alone as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic. At the time of writing, it is hard to divine the full impact Covid-19 will have in the near term. Will emissions bounce back quickly, or will they remain depressed by a sluggish economy for a few years? Longer term, the question is whether changes in policy, technology, business processes and behavior during the crisis prove sticky enough to push 2030 emissions below the 5% fall I predicted just three months ago. And there I think we can be pretty sure the answer is yes. The clamor for a “green stimulus” has already begun. Realistically, the trauma to the global economy is so pressing that governments’ immediate priorities will be measures that keep people safe, fed and housed, and as many of them in employment as possible, even if idle. The idea that pouring billions of dollars into electric vehicle charging stations, renewable energy projects or solar rooftops over the next few months is the best way to do this is fanciful. As soon as the immediate crisis has passed, however, and attention moves to reflating economies, that is the time to ensure that clean energy, transport and smart infrastructure is at the heart of any longer-term stimulus. How might that be achieved?
BNEF 26th March 2020 read more »