Since the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, I have personally had a lot of time to reflect on, well, life. One thing that I have realised throughout this worldwide turmoil is the need to make the world a better place. You have probably seen the videos online of Venice, Italy where their air and water is clear and thriving with wildlife. Since the Coronavirus lockdown, many people are at home, traffic is virtually nonexistent, factories are closed, and construction has come to a halt, leading to a reduction in air pollution. Watching nature emerge and beginning to thrive, I am questioning whether we are the virus of earth.
Despite increasing efforts to educate and accelerate the process of transitioning to renewable energy, the world will fall short of achieving climate change incentives unless efforts are scaled up significantly. Experts have suggested this pandemic could be ‘our last big opportunity’ to change how we sustain human life. It is estimated the pandemic will lead to an 8% drop in emissions in 2020, the largest drop in history. An assessment is being produced by the likes of Nobel prize winner Joseph Stiglitz and leading British climate economist Lord Stern, to assess the economic and climate impact of taking a green route out of the pandemic. The Oxford Review of Economic Policy is due to publish this information. The assessment has surveyed officials in 53 countries on their recovery measures and drew on lessons from the 2008 financial crisis. It has been suggested that ‘green projects’ that reduce emissions create more jobs, deliver higher short-term returns for the money spent and lead to increased long-term savings compared to traditional fiscal stimulus. The International Renewable Energy Agency found that accelerating investment in renewable energy could generate huge economic benefits while helping to tackle the global climate emergency. Cameron Hepburn, lead author of the report and director of the Smith School of Enterprise and Environment, University of Oxford, said: “This report shows we can choose to build back better, keeping many of the recent improvements we’ve seen in cleaner air, returning nature and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.”
The European Union is generating plans to help automakers with a stimulus package that would boost electric vehicle sales – leaving diesel and gasoline vehicles behind. The French government is setting aside more than €1.3 billion for EV incentives, in a bid to bring down the price of battery-electric vehicles – by nearly 40 per cent in some cases, while also lowering CO2 emissions. Meanwhile, owners of older diesel-powered vehicles are being incentivised by receiving bonuses of €5,000 for scrapping them, with €7,000 going toward buying a new electric vehicle. Renewables are beginning to exceed coal consumption for the first time in the US since 2019, according to the US Energy Information Administration. Information like this could be key indicators that Governments and organisations are taking renewables seriously.
As clean energy becomes widely accessible and accelerates its cost declines, renewables will displace expensive and outdated sources of electricity. It has taken enormous effort for the renewable energy industry to build momentum in the energy transition. Perhaps we are at the stage where science and technology have progressed enough in the clean energy sector for the big players in the world to take notice? Although green energy is not the only solution to reduce human impact on the earth, I think the information about Governments & organisations using this opportunity to boost economic stimulus is promising. Watching the world heal whilst in lockdown could have touched many human lives, opening our eyes on how we can take a different path in protecting ourselves and nature for future generations.