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Covid-19 in South Korea, France, and Italy: using the response to fight climate


The United States has now put out several relief packages to deal with the economic impacts of the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, and lawmakers are considering even more.

But a glaring hole in these economic stimulus proposals is aggressive new climate policies and targets, which are desperately needed as that crisis accelerates.

Democrats have some environmental stimulus proposals under consideration, like $550 billion for clean transportation investment. Yet at the same time, some Republican lawmakers are also pushing for bailouts of the fossil fuel industry.

In the past few months, however, cities, businesses, and governments in other parts of the world have already shown that even while fighting off a deadly virus, they can take steps to mitigate the other massive catastrophe of climate change.

With clear roads, clear skies, oil prices plummeting, businesses needing bailouts, and political capital to spend, countries like South Korea, Italy, and France have decided that the pandemic response is an opportunity to rethink energy, infrastructure, industry, and government in ways to cut pollution and reduce emissions contributing to climate change.

Writing in the Guardian on June 5, several former and current central bankers — including, Andrew Bailey, governor of the Bank of England, and François Villeroy de Galhau, governor of Banque de France — said it’s critical that countries launch a green recovery from the pandemic.

“This crisis offers us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rebuild our economy in order to withstand the next shock coming our way: climate breakdown,” they wrote. “Unless we act now, the climate crisis will be tomorrow’s central scenario and, unlike Covid-19, no one will be able to self-isolate from it.”

Globally, greenhouse gas emissions are poised to decline this year by a record 8 percent in large part due to the global response to the coronavirus. Many cities have also seen major declines in air pollution. But these gains are fragile, and emissions and pollution could easily spike again as economies recover. Keeping the incidental environmental improvements from the pandemic, then, requires deliberate decisions to protect gains even after the virus fades away.

Here are some of the ways people have used the crisis and the opportunity of the pandemic to enact climate policies, set ambitious goals for carbon-heavy industries, and build clean energy infrastructure.

South Korea’s Democratic Party is using its new leverage to advance a Green New Deal

South Korea has been hailed around the world for its response to Covid-19, with a massive national effort to test people for the virus, trace…



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2020-06-08 16:11:26

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