Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Climate activists are distressed that their push to make 2020 a big year for international climate agreements is being thrown into disarray by the Covid-19 Chinese Coronavirus outbreak disrupting all the lead up international meetings they normally attend.
How Coronavirus Could Set Back the Fight Against Climate Change
BY JUSTIN WORLAND MARCH 10, 2020 2:52 PM EDT
This year was supposed to be a big one in the international fight against climate change. But the fast spreading new coronavirus disease, COVID-19, is posing a triple-threat to action that could derail the Paris Agreement effort to combat global warming, worried experts say.
The disease is a challenge for climate change action on multiple fronts. COVID-19 has already disrupted crucial negotiations ahead of a November conference in Glasgow that could determine the Paris Agreement’s success in reducing emissions. The outbreak may supplant climate concerns in the minds of the public, weakening political will at a key moment. And it may encourage burning fossil fuels in hopes of restarting the global economy.
“Everybody’s going to be putting safety first right now,” says Matthew McKinnon, an advisor to a group of countries especially vulnerable to climate change. “And whether or not safety first aligns with climate first is going to vary from place to place.”
To lay the ground for the Glasgow summit, international climate and environmental policymakers planned to hop between a series of important meetings and conferences that would set the stage and, they hoped, allow the world to finally bend the curve on emissions. But, as international travel has ground to a halt, the important work of climate diplomacy has suffered as in-person meetings have become impossible and a series of important conferences have been canceled, from the World Oceans Summit in Japan to CERAWeek, perhaps the most important energy conference, in Houston. The United Nations’ climate body has called off all meetings through the end of April, citing health and safety of attendees as well as the inability to muster a quorum.
Rescheduling meetings has proven hazardous. The Convention on Biological Diversity, which is trying to broker a landmark deal to protect nature by October, moved a meeting from Kunming, China to Rome, to escape the coronavirus. But as the meeting progressed delegates were slowly recalled as news spread of a coronavirus outbreak in Italy. “We left around the middle of the week,” says Lina Barrera, vice president of international policy at Conservation International. “Some people didn’t come at all.”
…Read more: https://time.com/5795150/coronavirus-climate-change/
In 2014 University of Washington academics submitted expense claims for enough airmiles for a return trip to Mars. We can only imagine how the need for academics to fly to conferences has grown, as efforts to clamp down on activities which produce CO2 emissions have gathered momentum, only to see those hopes dashed at the last minute.
Let us hope someone introduces them all to teleconferencing software before it becomes too late to save this year’s climate agreements.