How has COVID-19 affected climate change?


Hunter Berube

Suffolk Climate Watch graphic

With 2021 right around the corner, one can only wonder how climate change and the pandemic will affect us next year. So aCOVID-19 continues to surge, what will its impact be on climate change?

COVID-19 has resulted in new rules and regulations that continue to take effect. There have been travel restrictions, which could mean a reduction in greenhouse gases. According to USA America, domestic flight restrictions occurred in March when coronavirus hit America.

According to The Scarlet, the impacts of the virus have also caused changes in water quality and air.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reports that COVID-19 can be looked upon as a test for emergency preparedness in response to climate change, specifically on vulnerable populations. 

During the span of 2020, about 24.9 million displacements occurred across 140 countries due to weather-related incidents. UNCHR is looking to find protection for displaced peoples affected by food and water shortages, COVID-19, climate change and loss of livelihoods. 

However, there has yet to be the same sense of urgency to fight global warming in comparison to the coronavirus outbreak.

“Both climate change and the COVID pandemic transcend borders and threaten millions of lives,” said Gillian Triggs, UNHCR’s assistant high commissioner for protection in a virtual meeting of the annual High Commissioner’s Dialogue on Protection Challenges.

During the lockdown, Barcelona, Spain saw a 50% decrease in regular air pollution, according to The Scarlet. Carbon emissions in China have decreased by 35%, while water quality in Venice, Italy has improved significantly.

Biologist William Sutherland and 24 other conservation researchers have begun to look at trends that have impacts on biodiversity and conservation that need to be addressed urgently. According to Ensia, these issues consist of coral reefs suffocating, sustainable farming, fire prevention logging and more. 

Young adults from 140 countries attended an online climate summit, “Mock Cop26,” who presented a treaty with 18 policies to the United Kingdom’s high level climate action advocate, Nigel Topping. According to The Guardian, the conference called on world leaders to prioritize these policies for 2021. 

“Mock Cop26 sends a strong message to world leaders that young people can coordinate global negotiations and have the solutions. Now is the time for us to have a seat at the table,” said Suphane Dash-Alleyne, a delegate from Guyana, South America, according to The Guardian.