COVID-19 has changed the world.
From self-isolation to social distancing, conscious hand washing, limited travel opportunities, and swapping face-to-face meetings for video calls, life as we know it has changed.
Luckily, we were able to adapt to pandemic conditions quickly and efficiently. Together, we can flatten the COVID curve and fingers crossed, we can go back to the days when we could pick up a roll of toilet paper at the shops without a brawl.
However, one of the biggest changes since going into lockdown has been the environment. Since we started self-isolating and limiting our travel, Mother Nature has breathed a sigh of relief and has flourished in more ways than one.
The impact has been fascinating – and we need to keep our progress going.
In this blog, we explore how climate change has impacted our environment, how COVID-19 has changed the world in a matter of months, and three things we can do to continue climate action once lockdown lifts. Read on!
First, let’s face the facts
Image: Green & Growing
Climate change has already had a clear impact on our natural environment – both in Australia and around the world. These impacts include:
- Rising sea levels. As a result of the melting ice caps, the global sea level has risen around 8 inches since record keeping started in 1880. This is predicted to rise another 1 to 4 feet by 2100.
- More intense droughts. Periods of hot weather are getting longer, soil is getting drier, and heatwaves are becoming more common. By the end of this century, once every 20-year heatwaves are predicted to occur every 2 or 3 years.
- Changes in the growth and distribution of plants, animals, and insects. More than a million species are at risk due to climate change and our use of the land and ocean.
- Poleward shifts in the distribution of marine life. Fish and other marine animals are moving away from warm areas and into areas that were once too cool, leading to new species and extinction of species who have nowhere to migrate.
- Increases in coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef and Western Australian reefs. This has a unique impact on Australian tourism. The more bleached our reefs get, the less likely they are going to be used to promote tourism.
- Reduction in rainfall. For example, Western Australia has experienced a massive reduction in rainfall since the 1970s, leading to water shortages. This has been linked to greenhouse gas emissions.
- Losses in pollinating species like bees. This has serious implications for the growth of our fruit, veggies, and grains along which need to be pollinated to grow.
- Bushfires. Over the last forty years, we’ve seen an increase in the number of extreme fire danger days, especially in South Australia. As conditions get hotter and drier, we’re looking at earlier – and longer – fire seasons.
These climate conditions were set to worsen – until the COVID-19 outbreak.
COVID-19’s positive impact on carbon emissions
Since the 1850s, our use of oil, gas, and coal has increased dramatically, leading to a massive increase in carbon emissions over the last century. In the graph below, you can see we’re at an all-time high for carbon emissions.
Source: BBC News
However, we can also see in times of global or financial crisis, there were decreases in carbon emissions – meaning it is possible for us to reduce carbon emissions.
In just a few short months, COVID-19 has proven no war, recession, or global pandemic has ever had such a dramatic impact on carbon emissions. According to a recent report from the Carbon Brief, our need for energy has dropped off enormously during COVID-19 and carbon emissions are expected to fall between 4% and 8% this year.
This impact is almost ten times larger than the last global recession!
The major upside to a global crisis is that we have the potential to change our ways. You can see the evidence in our history. You can even see it in how the world reacted to COVID-19 and came together as a global community to stay home, stay safe, and flatten the curve.
We’ve proven we can make a difference – and it’s time for climate action now!
How we can take climate action & make a serious difference
The choices we make moving forward will have a positive impact on our future.
Below, we’ve outlined three things we can all do to keep COVID-19’s positive climate impact going and change the future for generations to come.
#1. Come together and lobby for stronger climate policies
We’re looking at a 5% decrease in carbon emissions in 2020 and according to Glen Peters from Cicero, we have the chance to secure our future and reach net-zero carbon emissions around 2050 – if we can maintain these reductions every year.
“Such emissions reductions will not happen via lockdowns and restrictions, but by climate policies that lead to the deployment of clean technologies and reductions in demand for energy,” Glen said.
Power experts believe there will be an influx in carbon emissions in 2021 but in the long run, we will turn to greener fuels.
In fact, the wheels are already in motion. In April, environmental ministers from more than 30 countries met for a video conference known as “Petersberg Climate Dialogue” to forge an international agreement on ambitious carbon cuts following COVID-19.
During the pandemic, we’ve proven we can take climate action (even if it was unintentional). When the time comes, we need to think before we vote, choose leaders who will make the right decision on behalf of the environment, and we need to continue lobbying for greener climate policies to secure our future.
#2. Consider reducing your amount of travel by car
Lockdown has been a little boring for most people. Being stuck inside all the time is no picnic, but there are lessons to be learned from our limited travel.
As we mentioned earlier, carbon emissions have dropped massively in the last few months. One of the biggest contributors to the decrease has been reduced traffic on our roads.
If we can continue to limit travel and choose alternative carbon-conscious transportation options, we can continue the downward trend of carbon emissions.
Some other options include:
- Using public transportation
- Taking advantage of rideshare options like carpooling and splitting fares via Uber
- Working from home a couple of days per week to reduce trips into the office (if possible)
- Walk or ride a bike to work, the shops, or to social events
#3. Choose carbon-neutral services
As a business owner, there are lots of positive steps you can take to reduce your impact on the environment. For example, you could switch from unsustainable shipping and packing materials to a more biodegradable option, or you could choose carbon neutral services to offset your carbon footprint.
In 2019, Transdirect became 100% certified carbon neutral and we remain one of the few courier providers to offer this benefit. We teamed up with the Carbon Reduction Institute to offset all emissions from our courier and freight service partners.
With Transdirect, you’ll be supporting a carbon neutral business and minimising your own impact on the environment – meanwhile, you’ll be able to shop around for the best price on shipping and enjoy the flexibility of a multi-carrier shipping experience.
It’s a win-win situation!