The containment measures imposed worldwide could lead to a historical decrease in greenhouse gas emissions (14% compared to 2019). On the occasion of the 50th World Earth Day on April 22, 2020, environmentalists called on governments to seize this opportunity to reverse unsustainable global trends. Hope for Africa, which is paying a high price for the world's air pollution.
At a time when the coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak human and economic havoc around the world, global advocates point to the environmental significance of this health crisis. In a study carried out by the Climate Economics Chair at the University of Paris-Dauphine, the authors note that the global containment [marked by the almost total halt in transport and tourism] could lead to a historic decline in CO2 emissions into the atmosphere: 14% compared to 2019. This is ten times more than during the 2009 financial crisis.
Africa, which accounts for just 4% of global carbondioxide emissions, but pays the highest price, could benefit from the situation. Assuming that this reduction in CO2 emissions is not short-lived, as Christian De Perthuis, the founder of the Climate Economics Chair at the University of Paris-Dauphine, pointed out. “There will of course be a recovery in emissions when the economy starts moving again. But nothing comparable with the one that followed the financial crisis of 2009. The fall was much more violent and I don’t see a rapid recovery of the economy. The world has changed a lot. We’re not going to go back 10 years,” says the expert.
Governments need to adopt low-polluting stimulus packages
Not all environmental advocates are optimistic about the economic recovery strategies being considered in industrialized countries. In France, for example, climatologist Corinne Le Quéré, president of the High Council for the Climate, considers the edifice of her country’s national climate policies too fragile at a time when the tourism sector and airlines are calling for emergency state aid. Structural changes have not been made. “The government’s decisions are going to have significant repercussions. It is therefore essential to put climate issues at the heart of post-crisis plans that are sustainably oriented towards low carbon” says the climatologist. Contrary to the request of the French employers, supported by its trade union, the MEDEF, which has written to Elisabeth Borne, Minister of Ecological Transition, asking for a moratorium on the preparation of new energy and environmental provisions. A position that is quite out of step with the initiatives that are flourishing around the world to demand sustainable recovery plans and that are listed by our Novethic Conferences.
As far as Africa is concerned, the response to the recession provoked by Covid-19 should be for development partners to place their financial support to developing countries on a climate basis. “This support should mainly benefit initiatives aligned with the Paris agreement, using the relevant grant financing mechanisms in a more catalytic way,” said Ludmila Azo, CEO of I-mpacting.com, a consulting firm dedicated to supporting public and private organizations in energy access and climate action.
Various contributions from environmental experts were published in the framework of the 50th edition of World Earth Day, April 22, 2020. An event that has taken on a special focus this year, in full confinement linked to the fight against the spread of the coronavirus Covid-19. A health catastrophe that should not alter the fact that climate change remains the greatest threat to humanity, today, tomorrow and in the long term.