What’s next for climate change after COVID-19?

The 2020 Production Gap report warns about the measures to be taken in the post-COVID period .

White smoke coming out from a building.

While the isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic meant an economic disruption and in turn a brief slowdown, this does not mean the disappearance of the climate crisis. / Photo: Pexels

LatinAmerican Post | Vanesa López Romero

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Leer en español: ¿Qué viene para el cambio climático después del COVID-19?

Although it is estimated that carbon dioxide emissions will fall by 7% due to the inactivity caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, this means only a reduction of 0.01 degrees in global warming by 2050. Thus it affirms the report on the 2020 Production Gap delivered by the United Nations Environment Program , in which it also drew attention to the need to reduce the use of fossil fuels globally.

With this report, the organization seeks to measure "the discrepancy between countries' fossil fuel production plans and the levels necessary to limit global warming to 1.5 ° C and 2 ° C".

Reducing fossil fuels is more necessary than ever

In the Paris Agreement in 2015, 195 countries pledged to prevent global temperature from rising more than 2 ° C compared to pre-industrial levels. Even so, the United Nations assures that by 2030 "countries plan to produce 120% more fossil fuels than would be consistent with the 1.5 ° C target."

In the case of the reduction of fossil fuels, the world production of coal, oil and gas should be decreased annually by 11%, 4% and 3% respectively between 2020 and 2030, however it is estimated that governments plan to increase each of these by 2% annually.

Also read: COVID-19: Air quality influences the pandemic

What comes with post-COVID for climate change?

Although the isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic meant, in the words of the organization, an economic disruption and in turn a brief slowdown, this does not mean the disappearance of the climate crisis.

In fact, the report highlights the importance of the pre-COVID plans and the measures that will be taken with the post-COVID, as these suggest that the fossil fuel production gap will continue to increase, which implies a great climate risk .

The lack of commitment on the part of governments is also highlighted by targeting many more COVID-19 funds to fossil fuels than to clean energy, "legislators must reverse this trend to achieve climate goals," the report says.

Opportunities to meet goals

On the other hand, the report also analyzes possibilities that seek to create bridges between the gaps. This year he focused on three areas that are most important considering the COVID-19 crisis. “The Role of the Fiscal Rescue and Recovery of COVID-19 and Measures in the Global Transition to Decarbonization ; the role and opportunities to reduce emissions from the aviation and shipping sectors, where international emissions are not covered by NDCs; and the role of lifestyle change in decarbonization ”.

Broadly speaking, this study shows a reality: the response that governments have given to the crisis due to COVID-19 has perpetuated patterns that put at risk the goal sought to stop climate change; Likewise, the way in which countries and governments around the world respond to post-COVID will be extremely important to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.

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