Global greenhouse gas emissions are expected to drop by nearly 8 percent this year, due to COVID-19 lock downs. This is the largest drop ever recorded, and may seem like a step in the right direction, with the existential threat of climate change still looming over us.
However, this will not be enough to save us. As the economy opens back up, we cannot return to “normal.” If we don’t make fundamental changes to how the global economy functions, once quarantines are lifted, emissions will soar again.
As businesses re-open, energy use will increase. Fossil fuel consumption will increase. Production of fossil fuel derived products will increase. This crisis is not stopping global warming, it’s just delaying it.
If we want a planet to live on in the future, these diminishing emissions can only be a starting point. We need to continue this trend by transforming energy infrastructure, moving to fully renewable energy, and eliminating fossil fuel extraction. We can’t expect those in charge, who have shown in this crisis their willingness to let people die to save their economy, to make the changes we’ll need to save the planet. We’ll have to rely on ourselves. And this crisis is beginning to show us the possibilities.
Featured image credit: NASA Earth Observatory observes a decline in carbon emissions in China