COVID-19 and Climate Action

The COVID-19 virus has led to localized improvements in air quality due to the reduction in economic activity from efforts to control the pandemic. But cuts in emissions as a result of the economic crisis triggered by COVID-19 will not substitute for concerted Climate Action. “Past experience suggests that emissions declines during economic crises are followed by a rapid upsurge. We need to change that trajectory,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

“Despite local reductions in pollution and improvement in air quality, it would be irresponsible to downplay the enormous global health challenges and loss of life as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Secretary-General Taalas. “However, now is the time to consider how to use economic stimulus packages to support a long-term switch to more environmentally and climate-friendly business and personal practices.”

“The world needs to demonstrate the same unity and commitment to climate action and cutting greenhouse gas emissions as to containing the Coronavirus pandemic Failure in climate change mitigation could lead to greater human life and economic losses during the coming decades,” said the Secretary-General.

It is too early to assess the implications of the slacking-off in economic activity for concentrations of greenhouse gases that are responsible for long-term climate change. Carbon dioxide levels at key observing stations have been higher so far this year than they were last year.

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