How Covid-19 could impact the climate crisis

Satellite images showing dramatic drops in air pollution in coronavirus hotspots around the globe have circulated widely on social media, offering a silver lining to an otherwise very dark story. But they are also a graphic reminder of the climate crisis that will continue when the pandemic passes.

Governments have a human rights obligation to protect people from environmental harm — and this includes a duty to address climate change.

Many see the efforts to contain the economic fallout of the pandemic as an opportunity to accelerate the shift to cleaner energy alternatives, such as solar and wind. Options could include ensuring that economic stimulus programs prioritize investments in cleaner energy, or conditioning assistance to businesses, especially in carbon-intensive sectors, on drastic cuts in emissions. Similarly, financial industry bailouts could require banks to invest less in fossil fuel and more in climate change mitigation and resilience efforts.

How Covid-19 could impact the climate crisis

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