Coronavirus and the climate

Coronavirus and the climate

As governments around the world grapple with COVID-19, the planet continues to warm. How is the pandemic likely to impact climate policy within and among the world's largest countries?

For now, pollution is way down. Around the world, smog has decreased dramatically as coronavirus-lockdowns idle factories and park millions of cars, scooters, boats, and airplanes. This is temporary, of course, but it's a chance for people, at least those allowed outside, to see what clean air and water look like.

...but so is attention to climate policy. At the moment, most governments will have to get back to you about climate policy, and the UN has already postponed its planned November global climate summit, mothballing global coordination on climate responses until mid-2021.


Looking ahead, as governments craft responses to the economic fallout from coronavirus, we'll hear vigorous debates about whether and how much climate considerations should be part of those plans. Here are two main arguments.

One: this is a unique opportunity to act on climate, so don't screw it up. The pandemic boosted governments' powers to reshape economies and societies. They could use the moment to make both much greener.

Two: economic recovery trumps environmental concerns. Forcing companies to spend more to go greener in exchange for government rescue money will make it much harder to get workers back to work. Worry about the half a billion people facing poverty first.

So far, we've seen a little bit of both among the world's major economies. The EU, for example, still plans to move ahead with its Green Deal and pledges to tighten its emissions targets, despite pushback from some eastern member states fearful of the cost. In the US, meanwhile, the Trump administration has relaxed emissions enforcement, and Congress failed to agree on any green conditionalities as part of the $2.2 trillion March rescue plan, though another package is now in the works. China, for its part, has massively ramped up coal-fired power generation to reinvigorate an economy that just shrank for the first time in 40 years.

And that's part of the problem. Absent coordinated action among the world's largest economies to deal with climate change, it will be hard to flatten the curve of global warming, so to speak. Greenhouse gases, like viruses, don't respect borders.

The November wildcard: US President Donald Trump and his election opponent Joe Biden differ sharply on climate change. In his first year as president, Trump withdrew the US from the Paris Accords, arguing that the deal left "American workers — who I love — and taxpayers to absorb the cost in terms of lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories, and vastly diminished economic production." Biden, by contrast, has pledged to recommit the US to the Paris Agreement on day one of his presidency.

Even as countries around the globe continue to grapple with responses to the economic fallout of the pandemic, what happens on November 3 in the US will have a dramatic impact on global climate cooperation.

Early employment can set a young person on a trajectory for success, providing both a paycheck and a stepping-stone for improving academic performance.

Bank of America is committed to investing in youth employment, funding $160 million since 2018 to connect youth and young adults to jobs and mentoring.

The minutiae of supply chains makes for boring dinner table talk, but it's increasingly becoming a hot topic of conversation now that packages are taking much longer to arrive in the consumer-oriented US, while prices of goods soar.

With the issue unlikely to be resolved anytime soon, right-wing media have dubbed President Biden the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, conjuring images of sad Christmas trees surrounded by distraught children whose holiday gifts are stuck somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.

It hasn't been a good run for Uncle Joe in recent months. What issues are tripping him up?

More Show less

Three years ago, Facebook changed its algorithms to mitigate online rage and misinformation. But it only made Facebook worse by boosting toxic engagement, says Nick Thompson, The Atlantic CEO & former WIRED editor-in-chief. Thompson believes Facebook simply got in over its head, rather than becoming intentionally "evil" like, say, Big Tobacco with cigarettes. "I think they just created something they couldn't control. And I think they didn't grasp what was happening until too late." Watch his interview with Ian Bremmer on the latest episode of GZERO World.

From overall health and wellness to representation in the global workforce, women and girls have faced serious setbacks over the past 18+ months. They also hold the key to more robust and inclusive growth in the months and years ahead: McKinsey & Company estimates that centering recovery efforts on women could contribute $13 trillion to global GDP by 2030.

On October 28th at 12pm ET, as part of our "Measuring What Matters" series, GZERO Media and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will look beyond traditional indicators of economic recovery to examine COVID-19's impact on girls and women, specifically in the areas of health and employment.

More Show less

This year, American kids who've asked Santa for L.O.L. Surprise! dolls, Nerf blasters, or classic Legos may be disappointed. The delivery of these and other in-demand toys could be delayed due to pandemic-related supply chain disruptions that are still hitting US businesses and consumers hard. Container vessels loaded with precious cargo are waiting days to enter busy US ports, while within the country truck drivers are working flat out to meet soaring demand for goods of all kinds. Products are getting wildly expensive or arriving late. Here's a snapshot of the problem, showing longer delivery times, skyrocketing freight and shipping costs, and trucker employment.

Bolsonaro accused of crimes against humanity: A long-running Senate investigation in Brazil has found that by downplaying the severity of COVID, dithering on vaccines, and promoting quack cures, President Jair Bolsonaro directly caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. An earlier version of the report went so far as to recommend charges of homicide and genocide as well, but that was pulled back in the final copy to a mere charge of "crimes against humanity", according to the New York Times. The 1,200-page report alleges Bolsonaro's policies led directly to the deaths of at least half of the 600,000 Brazilians who have succumbed to the virus. It's a bombshell charge, but it's unlikely to land Bolsonaro in the dock — for that to happen he'd have to be formally accused by the justice minister, an ally whom he appointed, and the lower house of parliament, which his supporters control. Still, as the deeply unpopular Bolsonaro limps towards next year's presidential election, a rap of this kind isn't going to help.

More Show less

11,412: Irmgard Furchner, a 92-year-old former typist at a Nazi concentration camp in Germany, is facing trial for contributing to the murder of 11,412 people there. Furchner tried to escape German authorities in late September by sneaking out of her nursing home, but was arrested hours later and slapped with an electronic wrist tag.

More Show less

If you had to guess which current world leader has made the most trips to Africa, who would you say? China's Xi Jinping? Nope, hardly — he's been there just four times. France's Emmanuel Macron? Pas de tout.

The answer may surprise you: it's Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who's been to the continent more times than the leader(s) of any other non-African state. Just this week he notched his 28th visit, with stops in Angola, Nigeria, and Togo. Sure, being in power for two decades creates a lot of opportunities for exotic travel, but even Russia's Vladimir Putin isn't close: he's been to Africa just five times, all to visit South Africa or Egypt.

More Show less

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal