The World Post Covid – Climate Change - Adrian Alker, PCN Chair
Monday 22nd June 2020
Environmentalists around the world are warning that we cannot afford a carbon rebound
PCN members have been sharing their hopes for our world and our society after we have come through this current pandemic. I have already highlighted two issues which have been raised – the attraction of a universal basic income and the need to value much more the key workers in our country, be it in hospitals and care homes, our supermarket staff, office cleaners, refuse collectors and many others.
But there was another very common hope for the future and that is to treat climate change with the same urgency as tackling the coronavirus. Members have emailed about the need for sustained action, for businesses and organisations to be more environmentally focussed in their work. Working from home has reduced travel and hence car emissions. Our skies are clearer, pollution reduced. Will we, can we, learn lessons from this lockdown?
Christine and I live on one of the busiest arterial roads into Sheffield, a major bus route with polluting diesel transport emitting fumes as children go along the road to their schools. For the past three months the road has been quieter and when I go into the back garden I hear the birdsong clearer than ever before. Of course life will inevitably return to normal but hopefully this experience will have built up the pressing case for hybrid/electric vehicles, for more people getting on those bikes or even walking to work.
Environmentalists around the world are warning that we cannot afford a carbon rebound after the pandemic is over. Globally governments are planning to spend around £7.18 trillion on rescuing their economies and part of this expenditure must be in sustainable recovery packages says the International Energy Agency. During the pandemic, carbon dioxide emissions plunged by a global average of 17% in April, compared to last year. The IEA published a report on 18 June this year setting out a blueprint for a green recovery. This focussed on wind and solar power alongside efficiency improvements to buildings and industries. Creating jobs will be an important priority in a transformed economy where many people face unemployment. Now is the time to create green jobs, such as retro fitting buildings, constructing wind farms and so on.
Will governments across the world have the vision and the strength to do this? The signs are not good in some of the largest economies such as in the USA or Brazil. Our own government talks the talk but will it walk the walk?
What can we do at PCN about the huge challenge of climate change? As citizens many of us are already involved in environmental action, lobbying our members of parliament, joining local activist groups. We can always plan our PCN meetings at venues which can be accessed by public transport; we can disseminate information about events and resources. Members of churches can be proactive at encouraging places of worship to be eco- churches. And we have produced a film, Holly’s Story about her passion for climate action, one of the five PCN films to be released in July. Accompanying that film are details of organisations and resources for further information about climate change.
There are other issues which members have raised as we seek to build a better world and in future newsletters I hope to refer to them. But do keep sending us your thoughts and hopes for a better world for us and our children and grandchildren.