Covid-19 and Climate Change: Asia’s Policy Choices in the Age of ‘Crisis’

Guest repost from Forbes by Tilak Doshi

The Asian continent spans a vast geographical area. The novel coronavirus emerged in the eastern part – Wuhan, China – and quickly spread to other countries within a couple of months after first reported cases in December. In Asia’s western reaches lie the Maldives, long the posterchild of the international climate change establishment which claims, among other things, that the low-lying tourist islands will be submerged as sea-levels rapidly rise with global warming.

Asian governments now face stark trade-offs, as the needs of an immediate, potentially catastrophic health crisis (and its devastating economic fallout) compete with the policy requirements of what the climate industrial complex deems as an equally threatening existential threat of “climate crisis”. As Asian policymakers grapple with immediate measures to handle the epidemic with unprecedented lockdowns of entire cities, provinces or even nationwide, they are no doubt keenly observing how their counterparts in the US and Europe are meeting this common challenge. Few if any of the developments in the West will inspire confidence.

The US Congress passed a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package which was signed by President Trump last Friday. But this was only after a week of partisan delay caused by the Democrats’ insistence on provisions that had little to do with handling the pandemic. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi failed in her bid to incorporate climate change provisions in the stimulus bill. In an expansive wish list, the bill included new tax credits for solar and wind energy and emissions standards for airlines by 2025 as part of the party’s Green New Deal ambitions.

To be fair, Ms Pelosi is not alone in the cynical attempt to “never let a good crisis go to waste”. Across the pond, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen doubled down on the EU’s climate commitment with a €1 trillion Green Deal. She presented the European Climate Law on March 4th, when the Wuhan virus was fast metastasizing into a global pandemic. The law, which would legally bind EU members to net zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050, was presented by Ms. von Leyen while flanked by none other than teenage Green icon Greta Thunberg. In an odd twist of logic, Frans Timmermans, leading the Commission’s work on the European Green Deal, said that the focus on the coronavirus pandemic “showed the need for climate laws”. In the revolutionary language of the EC’s Green Deal, all policy matters including coronavirus-related public health and economic stimulus legislation would have to be in line with net zero emissions by mid-century.

International bureaucrats have echoed these calls for stiffening the resolve to pursue climate legislation in the face of the mounting Covid-19 crisis. Fatih Birol, head of the International Energy Agency and a prominent climate policy advocate, advised world leaders and heads of financial institutions to exploit the “historic opportunity” presented by the pandemic and “use the current situation to step up our ambition to tackle climate change.” Christiana Figueres, former head of UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and architect of the Paris Agreement, tweeted “Well put @IEABirol…We have a massive crisis = opportunity on our hands. We cannot afford to waste it. Recovery must be green.”

Not surprisingly, these incessant calls for governments to finance ever-greater ambitions in emission reductions while the coronavirus pandemic imposes immediate hardships on afflicted countries have led to strong objections. One EU diplomat put it baldly: “We simply don’t have the money to do everything.” Another said that “Maybe it will be less on Green Deal but more on trying to restart the economies…We cannot just continue with the plans and programmes we had so far. They were developed for a world without coronavirus.”

Poland’s government, never a fan of the EU’s Green ambitions, stated that the country — heavily dependent on coal-fired power generation — would not be able to achieve the EU’s climate change goals because of the impact of the coronavirus epidemic on its economy. Holland, a richer European economy at the forefront of the EU’s climate ambitions, cited the toll of the virus pandemic in announcing that no new measures will be taken to reduce emissions. Bavaria’s Chief Minister called on the federal government to provide relief from the deepening pandemic crisis by suspending carbon taxes and renewable energy subsidies which have made electricity rates in Germany among the world’s highest.

For policymakers around the world, the Covid-19 pandemic has provided a reality check, a painful reminder of what a real existential crisis looks and feels like. Inevitably, the global focus on the Covid-19 pandemic has come at the expense of attention paid to hypothetical model-based notions of a future “climate emergency”. Perhaps the most consequential price to be paid on the trade-off between the two policy objectives will be in Asia, the world’s most populous continent.

Japan, the world’s third largest economy and one of its richest, is the first major signatory of the Paris Agreement to submit updated plans on cutting emissions in preparation for the now-postponed November 2020 Glasgow meeting. It was widely criticised by climate campaigners for failing to intensify emission targets as called for by the ‘spirit’ of the Paris Agreement. Many an Asian policymaker will see Japan’s refusal to submit tighter emissions reduction targets in view of the Covid-19 pandemic as pragmatic and necessary.

China, the world’s second largest economy and its biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, plans a fiscal stimulus worth hundreds of billions of dollars to restore economic growth. Given the country’s economic structure as the ‘workshop of the world’, this implies the resuscitation of carbon-intensive activity, ranging from coal to oil, natural gas, petrochemicals, plastics, and refineries — and reviving jobs for the multitudes who work in automobiles, aviation, shipping, utilities, construction, agriculture, manufacturing and utilities. Hence it is no surprise that China plans to postpone automobile emission standards and “save the industry” post-Covid-19.

In the emerging countries of Asia, among the impoverished masses without access to reliable and affordable electricity systems needed to power modern medical care, the lethality of the Covid-19 pandemic can only be imagined at this stage. Vast swaths of Asia lack clean water, sanitation systems, and refrigeration for vaccines, let alone respirators and personal protective equipment for front line medical workers. The strictures against fossil fuels, as part of the liturgy of climate change belief, is egregious to the extreme when the real and immediate challenge of coping with Covid-19 faces each and every Asian today.

49 thoughts on “Covid-19 and Climate Change: Asia’s Policy Choices in the Age of ‘Crisis’

  1. Whatever the presumbed crisis might be, it is made less severe by more fossile fuels.

    • All ventilators must be made out of 100% natural recycled materials.

      Pigs bladders, bamboo struts and manually operated bellows to avoid releasing “carbon” during operation. Zero carbon hospitals is the future.

      • That is an interesting point. What the Greenies don’t realise is that petroleum as single handedly reduced the cruel burden placed on animals. Without petroleum, animals were (would still be) used for labour as well as parts and lubricant.

  2. Found this brilliant comment by Cardimona at the Rafe Champion site catallaxyfiles.com . It says it all.

    Cardimona: posted on April 3, 2020 at 10:23 am

    Politicians of all persuasions all around the world have promptly shut down their economies because they perceive COVID-19 to be a real danger. By contrast, no politician anywhere has done anything remotely like that for “dangerous man-made global warming”. COVID-19 has removed all doubt that the last forty years of global cooling/global warming/climate change alarmism was entirely fake.

    • That’s a good comment, but one response would be that there is political opposition to shutting down economies for the threat of climate change.

      In the case of COVID-19, political opposition disappeared among the trillions of new debt created. Of course, one can claim that the former does not have full support of the public, while the second apparently does.

      • It really is about time for these climate idiots to STFU. Just like SARS-cov2, the little warming we’ve had is nothing we can change. We will have to deal with the presence of the virus and get used to being a bit less cold in winter.

        They are all running round like headless chickens , desperately trying to link this to their fetish subject because they know what is coming next is going blow their gravy train right off the rails.

        • Pressing Existential Threats, 2/1/20: Climate change, toxic masculinity, microagressions, #MeToo, diversity, animal personhood, transgenderism.

          Pressing Existential Threats, 4/1/20: Global Pandemic of the Wuhan Flu.

          Kind of gives one perspective, doesn’t it?

          Maybe the “new normal” is we’ll stop being immature, entitled and SILLY.

    • It’s probably been worse than that for action on climate change on two fronts

      1.) It has given the public a real taste of what shutting down sections of the economy really looks like.
      2.) Countries will be spending years to rebuild their economies and in no position to tinker around with climate change policies.

      There may also be a 3rd which we won’t know until much later but anecdotally many of the trendy inner city yuppies are badly financially impacted. They made up a decent percentage of the green/left support base and may well have very different views now. As each election result comes in post Covid we will be able to see the shifts in sentiment.

      • The governor of California recently gave an interview in which he stated that the COVID19 crisis will give him the opportunity to pass more of his far left wing agenda.

        • Newsom is anything but far left wing. He’s limousine liberal.
          Far left wing is communist/socialist – he’s anything but that.

        • LdB, I totally agree.

          There is just a delay until, the covid economic consequence unfold.

          This economic problem is more serious and difficult to get out of because of its magnitude and it affects all countries simultaneously.

          Higher unemployment than we have ever experienced and a failing economy changes everything. There will be people who have always had a job that will be unemployed. People will lose their houses, lose their businesses, banks start to have problems, and so no.

          These are problems many young people have never seen in the US.

          The young people and almost everyone who is living pay cheque to pay cheque now, will be more concerned about their jobs and the economy, than they were about climate change.

          They will want the economy to recovery, not a ‘green’ new ‘deal’.

      • Generally agree with LdB, but not sure on the yuppies. Young Urban Professionals are more likely to be able to work remotely so somewhat less exposed to job loss. The workers dependent on their spending are much more at risk though. I wonder if the Urban part will see changes. The virus spreads so easily that the recent trend toward city centers by the young has turned the cities into petri dishes.

        I would suggest this beneficial outcome re climate modeling: the extremely volatile and inaccurate forecasts of the models for the spread and impact of the virus should throw further question onto climate models that have, what appears to me, much more complexity and unknowns.

    • Chaamjamal, I think the reason for that is that if a country were to shut down its industry in the cause of the “climate emergency” it would be just giving a free ride to everyone else. Every other country benefits, only one feels the pain.
      With COVID-19 every country can take remedial actions which affect it AND NO OTHER COUNTRY. No-one gets a free ride from their pain.
      So countries are loath to take desperate measures which benefit others, not just themselves

    • As Willis has pointed out earlier, Japan’s measure is not really shutting down their economy. Japan’s demographic structure is just as sensitive to the COVID as Italy. With Willis post, Japan’s PM is now at the cross hair of the popular media. I hope their politicians will not surrender their position as Trump and BoJo have done in US and UK.

    • Indeed it does. However, the Climate scaremongering has always been about the politics. Nothing else. When the virus issue has passed, Climate change will be ”the greatest threat to humanity” once again. Remember Obama telling us so, at a time when terrorists had just run amok in Paris. They have no shame and certainly no sense of integrity. They absolutely know they advocate BS, but it is to their benefit. Climate crisis will rise like the Phoenix, from the Corona fire.

      Eamon.

  3. No matter how good or bad your Government is, it is near impossible to cope with outliers like these. Snowflake alert !! Not nice to watch, but illustrates some words about wet markets. Geoff S
    VIDEO-2020-02-15-19-17-38.mp4
    VIDEO-2020-02-15-19-18-14.mp4
    VIDEO-2020-02-15-19-19-09.mp4
    VIDEO-2020-02-15-19-19-24.mp4

  4. I have a question that may have already been answered –

    We know that with China’s (and now the world’s) decrease in economic activity, and decreased travel air pollution has fallen off. What has been the impact on CO2? Have atmospheric Levels fallen measurably? If so, have climatic temperatures fallen?

    • It has been answered the change is only a bit over 2ppm per year you would need 12 months or more shutdown to really see anything. China is already swinging back into action so you aren’t going to see anything. Other emission levels have been obvious there are several images kicking around showing NO2 changes over the period.

    • Re CO2 in air and reduced emissions.
      Data for March 2020 are Central to the detection of any change. The data are quite hard to find. NOAA graphs show missing data for several days at ML, while Scripps graphs appear to have ML data over those days. Stations like Barrow and Cape Grim and NZ are not up to date, sometimes months behind, on public web sites that are easy to search. In brief, hard to comment yet unless you have inside access to data not shown to the public. Geoff S

    • These shutdowns haven’t reduced energy usage by much. Mostly they’ve transferred them from factories to homes.

  5. 1 Apr: Quadrant Mag Australia: One Dozen Dissenting Second Opinions
    by Geoffrey Luck
    Here is a list of twelve whose opinions contradict the popular narrative:

    Dr Sucharit Bhakdi, microbiologist and infectious disease epidemiologist, formerly of Mainz University Germany: “All these measures are leading to self-destruction and collective suicide based on nothing but a spook.”

    Dr Joel Kettner, Professor of Community Health Sciences and Surgery, Manitoba University, Canada: “I’ve seen pandemics, one every year. It is called influenza, and other respiratory illness viruses. I’ve never seen this reaction, and I’m trying to understand why.”

    Dr John Ioannidis, Professor of Medicine, Health Research and Policy and Biomedical Data Science, Stanford University USA: “If we had not known about a new virus out there, the number of ‘influenza-like illness’ would not seem unusual this year. At most, we might have casually note that flu this season seems a bit worse than average.”

    Dr Yoram Lass, former Director General of the Israeli Health Ministry: “We all forget the swine flu in 2009. That was a virus that reached the world from Mexico and until today there is no vaccination against it. At the time there was no Facebook. The coronavirus, in contrast, is a virus with public relations. Whoever thinks that governments end viruses is wrong.”

    Dr Pietro Vernazza, infectious diseases specialist, St Gallen Hospital, Switzerland: “In Italy, one in ten people diagnosed die, one for every 1,000 infected. Often – similar to the flu season – it affects people who are at the end of their lives … If we close the schools, we will prevent the children from quickly becoming immune … We should better integrate the scientific facts into the political decisions.”

    Dr Wolfgang Wodarg, physician specialist in pulmonology, Germany: ”Politicians are being courted by scientists – scientists who want to be important to get money for their institutions. Scientists who just swim along in the mainstream and want their part of it. And what is missing now is a rational way of looking at things.”

    Dr Yanis Roussel, speaking for researchers at the Mediterranean University Hospital Infection Insitute, Marseille: “Systematic studies of other coronaviruses have found that the percentage of asymptomatic carriers is equal to or even higher than the percentage of symptomatic patients. The same data for Cov-19 may soon be available, which will further reduce the relative risk associated with this specific pathology.”

    Dr David Katz, founding director of the Yale University Prevention Research Centre: “I am deeply concerned that the social, economic and public health consequences of this near-total meltdown of normal life will be long-lasting and calamitous, possibly graver than the direct toll of the virus itself … The unemployment, impoverishment and despair likely to result will be public health scourges of the first order.”

    Michael T Osterholm, director of the Centre for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, University of Minnesota, USA: “The best alternative (to a shutdown) will probably entail letting those at low risk for serious disease continue to work, while advising higher-risk individuals to protect themselves through physical distancing. With this battle plan we could gradually build up immunity without destroying the financial structure on which are lives are based.”

    Dr Peter Goetzsche, professor of clinical research design and analysis, University of Copenhagen, Denmark: “Our main problem is that no one will ever get in trouble for measures that are too draconian. They will only get in trouble if they do too little. Remember the joke about tigers: ‘Why did you blow the horn?’ ‘To keep tigers away’. ‘But there are no tigers here.’ ‘There, you see!’”

    Frank Ulrich Montgomery, radiologisst, former president of the German Medical Association: “I am not a fan of lockdown. Anyone who imposes something like this must also say when and how to pick it up again. You can’t keep schools and daycare centres closed until the end of the year. Because it will take at least that long until we have a vaccine.”

    Professor Hendrik Streeck, epidemiologist and clinical trialist, director of the Institute of Virology, Bonn University, Germany: “The new pathogen is not that dangerous. Covid-19 replicates in the upper throat area and is therefore much more infectious because the virus jumps from throat to throat, so to speak. SARS-1 is not so infectious but it replicates in the deep lungs, which makes it more dangerous.”…
    https://quadrant.org.au/opinion/qed/2020/04/one-dozen-dissenting-second-opinions/

    • “Dr Yoram Lass, former Director General of the Israeli Health Ministry: “We all forget the swine flu in 2009. That was a virus that reached the world from Mexico and until today there is no vaccination against it. At the time there was no Facebook. The coronavirus, in contrast, is a virus with public relations. Whoever thinks that governments end viruses is wrong.””

      Hmm, facebook had 6 million users by December 2005. The good doctor isn’t up on his facts.

  6. The author is correct. The Red Chinese Cover-Up Plague is a real, clear and present existential danger to mankind that discredits false climate emergency fanaticism. A future much more catastrophic than the present pandemic caused by human carbon emissions is absurd in the nth degree.

  7. The author is correct. The Red Chinese Cover-Up Plague is a real, clear and present existential danger to mankind that discredits false climate emergency fanaticism. A future much more catastrophic than the present pandemic caused by human carbon emissions is absurd to the nth degree.

  8. During this world wide pandemic, there is very little that is not manufactured, shipped, and delivered that does not rely on energy supplied by fossil fuels. Gasoline, kerosene, Jet A/A1, diesel fuel, furnace fuel, bunker fuel, coal, natural gas, and propane are the essential fuels powering our world economies. The Wuhan virus is a harsh reality now. Man made climate change chimera is a ‘boogeyman’ fiction of future impending disaster. Failure to recognize these essential truths will cause a crisis much worse than any transient flu bug.

  9. “The novel coronavirus emerged in the eastern part – Wuhan, China ”

    Aren’t we supposed to scream “RACIST!” right about now? I’m so confused.

  10. “Vast swaths of Asia lack clean water, sanitation systems, and refrigeration for vaccines, let alone respirators and personal protective equipment for front line medical workers. The strictures against fossil fuels, as part of the liturgy of climate change belief, is egregious to the extreme when the real and immediate challenge of coping with Covid-19 faces each and every Asian today”

    All the countries in this context are Non-Annex Countries, meaning that they have no emission reduction obligation under the UNFCCC and not only that but that they must be compensated by the Annex-1 countries for any climate impact loss they suffer.

    Postscript: when the UN asked for and accepted INDCs from non-Annex countries in the Paris “agreement” they violated their own UNFCCC. That’s how screwed up and dishonest the UN is.

    https://tambonthongchai.com/2020/03/18/the-eco-crisis-ambition-of-the-un/

    • chaam,

      To that list of national properties, you might add frogs.
      https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/11203749/man-bites-head-live-frog-eats-insides-china-coronavirus/

      I was in west China several times in the early 1990s. Among thinks I ate for the first time were dog in a stew pot, fried bees, soup made by boiling roadside grass, authentic birds nest soup and deep fried camellia flowers. There were markets where live fish were displayed, gasping because one side of the body had been filleted off. But not frogs. You eat these things without fuss when you are main guest at a banquet where a refusal to eat can harm your friendship and business prospects.

    • Yes, absolutely critical point — that as non-Annex 1 countries, they were only signing up in order to get funds from the Green Climate Fund, at $100 bn a year, rationally enough. Now the real fiction was with the Annex 1 countries , you had Prez Obama obviate the Congress route, and do it via Executive Orders. And Trump retracted, as part of his promise to constituencies that elected him.

  11. This whole analysis hangs on the notion that there is a ‘climate crisis’. There is not.
    And the good burghers of many countries, including even some who rule them know it.

    • That may be true, but even the “good” ones are susceptible to the desire for more money and power that the scam can bring them.

  12. China, the world’s second largest economy and its biggest emitter of greenhouse gases:
    NO they have an unfiltered power plant stack problem.
    There is no green house gas effect. The theory defies Thermodynamics.
    Stop using their jargon Talik.

    • Are you saying that China is not the second largest economy, and that they are not the largest emitter of greenhouse gases?

  13. all might fall over and go back to normal sooner if….

    and its BEEN used IN HUMANS for some time for other things like Scabies and more.
    so the trials etc is ridiculous except for the need to prove it also works in Vivo
    wouldnt take many people OR very long
    https://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/breaking-news/antiparasitic-drug-kills-covid19-in-lab/news-story/0aec753726eb56058dc85cb4e28c61b5

    An anti-parasitic drug available throughout the world has been found to kill COVID-19 in the lab within 48 hours.

    A Monash University-led study has shown a single dose of the drug Ivermectin could stop the SARS-CoV-2 virus growing in cell culture.

    “We found that even a single dose could essentially remove all viral RNA (effectively removed all genetic material of the virus) by 48 hours and that even at 24 hours there was a really significant reduction in it,” Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute’s Dr Kylie Wagstaff said on Friday.

    While it’s not known how Ivermectin works on the virus, the drug likely stops the virus dampening the host cells’ ability to clear it.

    The next step is for scientists to determine the correct human dosage, to make sure the level used in vitro is safe for humans.

    (and…this)

    Ivermectin is an FDA-approved anti-parasitic drug also shown to be effective in vitro against viruses including HIV, dengue and influenza.

  14. So we can’t all live off air and sea tourism, OS student university education and the gig and barista economy with the windmills and solar panels? Whoda thunk it?

    Well Big Gummint everywhere has now doubled down with the printing press and trying to impress everyone they’re in a safe pair of hands and everything’s under control. Well the acid test for that is where they have the most control and we’ll see about that-
    https://www.msn.com/en-au/news/coronavirus/coronavirus-wuhan-residents-told-to-stay-inside-and-be-vigilant/ar-BB127V7P

  15. Is it just me? Cold and flu display seasonality. That is, they tend to arrive in the Fall and die out on their own in the Spring. Why? Because increased solar radiation in the form of both heat and ultraviolet light tend to inhibit the spread of cold and flu. Inside the body cold and flu like warmth and moisture. But during transmission they need cold and dry to inhibit activity so that they survive to enter a new host. Spring also tends to get people outdoors into natural social distancing and out of crowded indoor settings – like office cubicles and TV rooms. So how could global warming promote pandemics when warmer temperature brings an end to seasonal cold and flu season? SARS-1 in 2003 arrived in November and died out in July. Seasonality? This “novel coronavirus” can also be called SARS-2. It is thought to have started in October. Will it likewise die out in July?

  16. The time is now for fossil fuels to show those who have been duped so far by CO2 lies. The world needs affordable fossil fuels and an end to climate lies, in order to alleviate human suffering and to power our way out of the real crisis that faces us.

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