Earth Day: Coronavirus recovery must be in tandem with climate healing, UN urges. Nations must emerge from the damages caused by coronavirus and work to solve the climate crisis in unison to ensure a better future for the planet, the UN’s secretary general has urged ahead of events planned to mark Earth Day. Populations across the world have been forced to prioritise public health over economic and environmental wellbeing as the virus rages across the globe. Now in a call for governments to put the environment ahead of a short-term economic fix, the United Nations’ secretary-general Antonio Guterres has said ensuring a future for the planet must be a core element in rebuilding society after lockdown measures are lifted.
Independent 22nd April 2020 read more »
The UK government’s climate change adviser is urging ministers to reconsider plans for road-building and switch the investment into broadband. The government plans £28bn worth of new roads to relieve congestion. But the head of the Climate Change Committee, says it could be cheaper, better for the economy, and climate-friendly to expand fibre optics. That’s because the government’s plans for road-building assume 1% growth a year in demand for travel. But Chris Stark says Covid-19 has taught many people they can work from home thanks to the miracle of video conferencing. The head of the AA recently told BBC News he thought people would never fully return to their previous travel habits, and forecast that transport demand would shrink, not grow. Mr Stark agrees. He believes productivity and the economy would benefit if the roads fund was re-directed from tarmac to fibre optics.
BBC 21st April 2020 read more »
Milan is to introduce one of Europe’s most ambitious schemes reallocating street space from cars to cycling and walking, in response to the coronavirus crisis. The northern Italian city and surrounding Lombardy region are among Europe’s most polluted, and have also been especially hard hit by the Covid-19 outbreak. Under the nationwide lockdown, motor traffic congestion has dropped by 30-75%, and air pollution with it. City officials hope to fend off a resurgence in car use as residents return to work looking to avoid busy public transport. The city has announced that 35km (22 miles) of streets will be transformed over the summer, with a rapid, experimental citywide expansion of cycling and walking space to protect residents as Covid-19 restrictions are lifted. The Milan plan is so important is because it lays out a good playbook for how you can reset your cities now. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take a fresh look at your streets and make sure that they are set to achieve the outcomes that we want to achieve: not just moving cars as fast as possible from point A to point B, but making it possible for everyone to get around safely. In the UK on Monday, Brighton started opening part of the seafront, Madeira Drive, only to pedestrians and cyclists from 8am-8pm. In Barnes, London, businesses and residents have coned off part of the road outside shopping parades to expand pedestrian space and help shoppers keep their distance from each other. Meanwhile in the Republic of Ireland, Dublin is suspending loading bays and parking spaces to increase space for social distancing, by using removable plastic separators.
Guardian 21st April 2020 read more »
‘Pop-up’ cycle lanes and widened pavements for Edinburgh and Glasgow. Edinburgh and Glasgow city councils have confirmed they are discussing the innovations with the Scottish Government’s Transport Scotland agency and cycle and footpath developers Sustrans. The move follows the lead of cities such as Berlin and countries like New Zealand which are redrawing road markings to give more room for cycles. It also comes after a significant increase in cycling being recorded in Scotland since road traffic fell by 75 per cent because of the lockdown. The redrawing of streets is being planned for when lockdown restrictions are eased because 2m social distancing is likely to continue to be required for a long time. Glasgow City Council sustainability and carbon reduction convener Anna Richardson told The Scotsman: “We are actively looking at how we could introduce temporary footways and cycle paths to help support social distancing. Edinburgh City Council leader Adam McVey told The Scotsman: “We are actively considering ways to help people to safely walk and cycle, both in the present circumstances, and as things hopefully change in the coming months.
Scotsman 21st April 2020 read more »
The Green Party has today urged the government to make a Green New Deal the central plank of its post-coronavirus recovery plans. In a statement timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the Greens called on the government to resist falling back on a ‘business-as-usual’ economic model and instead embrace a recovery strategy that simultaneously boosts the economy while tackling the climate crisis and reducing inequality.
Business Green 22nd April 2020 read more »
The Covid-19 shutdown has highlighted how ponderous the world’s response has been – the expected cut in emissions, for example, is still less than what scientists say is needed every year this decade to avoid disastrous climate impacts for much of the world. “It’s the worst possible way to experience environment improvement and it has also shown us the size of the task,” said Michael Gerrard, an environmental law expert at Columbia University. How people react to the return of normalcy after the pandemic will help define the crises racking the environment, according to Gerrard. “A key question will be do we have a green recovery, do we seize the opportunity to create jobs in renewable energy and in making coastlines more resilient to climate change?” he said. “The current US president clearly has no inclination to do this.” “You wonder if people will want to go back to what it was like before,” she said. “The pandemic has shown people will change their behavior if it’s for the health of their families. This has been the lost message on climate, that it’s a human problem, not a planetary problem. We have to show you can have a stable environment and your job, too.”
Guardian 22nd April 2020 read more »