In the early months of the pandemic, the reduction in driving, carbon emissions, and traffic shone as one bright spot in the darkness of COVID-19. But the dramatic drop in greenhouse gas emissions brought on by pandemic closures won’t last, writes Amina Khan in the Los Angeles Times, if governments don’t take meaningful steps to maintain lower emissions and aggressively strive to hit their climate policy goals.
“To meet the Paris climate targets, the U.S. and the rest of the world will need to cut their emissions by about 1 billion to 2 billion metric tons per year — near-pandemic-level reductions — for every year throughout the 2020s.” Yet “most current COVID-19 recovery plans are in direct contradiction with countries’ climate commitments.”
One solution is to “ensure that post-pandemic growth is also tied to building a greener economy” and that new policies foster clean technologies as part of the economic recovery. The reduction in energy consumption during the pandemic was “deeply disruptive” to the lives of most people. But while Americans will largely go back to using the same energy-consuming devices and services they used before—and, in some cases, more of them as delivery services and digital tools become daily necessities—making those devices and services more energy-efficient can have similar and less disruptive benefits.