Renewable Energy Post Covid-19
At the time of writing, the effects of the Coronavirus crisis are still being felt across the world, but as Europe begins to return to some normality, the impact of the pandemic is starting to be analysed. As mentioned in last month’s article, during the lockdown period across Europe, the demand for energy fell. During the height of the Coronavirus crisis in early April, globally the amount of CO2 being released by human activity each day fell as much as 17%. Daily emissions temporarily fell to levels last seen in 2006. However, CO2 emissions started to rise again in late April as countries began easing their lockdowns. Some of the latest numbers show that daily carbon emissions are still down on 2019 levels, but only by 5% on average globally, which is not enough to make a significant contribution to the cuts in emissions needed to fulfil the Paris Agreement on climate change.
Governments and citizens had to act swiftly and adopt new behaviours to tackle the threat to lives from Covid-19. The question now is whether it is possible for businesses and individuals to change their behaviour to reduce pollution and slow down global warming. This would mean businesses having to decarbonise their operations and individuals changing their diets, consumption patterns and travel behaviour. In some cases, new behaviours adopted as a result of Covid-19 are in conflict with measures introduced to protect the environment. Concern about safety during the pandemic has meant an increase in single-use plastic bags and the use of plastic packaging. Together with masks and gloves, these often get discarded carelessly and end up clogging up drains and eventually washing into the oceans
Whilst the lockdown measures may have had a positive impact on CO2 emissions, at least in the short term, they also induced a recession as many businesses were forced to stop trading and temporarily lay-off staff. Governments are now looking at stimulus packages, but although there is talk of a ‘green recovery’ to both kick-start the economy and reduce emissions, in the past stimulus policies have tended to be ‘brown’, such as airline bailouts and traditional transport infrastructure investment. Hopefully now is a chance to start making changes which have a positive effect both on the environment and the economy to create better conditions for future generations.
What the crisis has done, is given many people the chance to stop and think and decide to make changes for the future. A lot of people may well continue to work from home and avoid having to spend hours each day commuting during rush hour. The new travel ‘normal’ may mean more holidays are taken not too far from home, travelling by car and staying in private rental properties instead of crowded hotels. Some of us may even decide not to go away, but instead to spend more time at home until the situation has stabilized a little more. Whatever the ‘new normal’ means for each of us, we can choose to make it a more sustainable one by opting for Renewable Energy solutions to heat our domestic water and our swimming pools; to power our home and cars and even ventilate our houses for a healthier environment.
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