Share your thoughts
Noting that the COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating on many levels, what are some of the opportunities or societal improvements that you think have, or could be brought about, as a result of the pandemic?
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To my mind, it is the process of economic recovery from COVID-19 that presents the greatest opportunity for a move towards sustainability. With governments around the world investing billions into their economies to facilitate the return to 'normal', there is a chance to channel investment towards environmentally friendly, green technology. This involves the types of technology that Ziyan discussed in the comment above. Hopefully, the global community will use the disruption of COVID-19 to phase out the reliance on climate destroying industries, such as mining, and instead develop those industries which represent a brighter future for the climate, like solar and wind power. Indeed, there have been moves in this direction, with the UK government announcing their Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution late last year. Whether these initiatives will be successful remains to be seen.
I think the Australia Asia Power Link (aka the Australia-ASEAN Power Link) is a great opportunity for mutual benefit. It aims to export solar power from Australia to Singapore and the broader ASEAN region from a solar plant via cable. It will create thousands of jobs for Australians, add $8 billion to its economy and export $1 billion of electricity to ASEAN per year. It will also provide ASEAN with solar energy which could otherwise not be produced due to the climate of the region. It'll be a great regional project for economic growth to propel us out of COVID-19. This project has recently been given major project status by the Australian Government and supporting it is a no-brainer IMO. More info here: https://suncable.sg/australia-asean-power-link/
If anything, COVID-19 has shown how globalization has tied the world and made it a global village. The virus spread almost as quickly as the news about it. And while shutting borders has reignited realist tendencies among nations, it also proved how our concerns and challenges are not far from each other. COVID-19 transmission, like climate change, transcends borders and can only thus be overcome through a concerted effort that transcends beyond national goals, ideals, and identities. Bring nations back to the meeting table!
I agree with Jessie. The pandemic necessitated temporary changes to our workplaces that led to a reduction in emissions. It will be interesting to see if we can witness similar emissions reductions when we change our working habits as we transition to the post-COVID world. Hopefully so. The workforce definitely has more leverage to advocate for hybrid working options than we did before the pandemic.
I have been thinking about how COVID-19 has affected our collective understanding about resilience and the need to prepare for an array of potential disasters. I'd like to think the experience of the pandemic has led to more people understanding the need for governments to prepare for and prevent potential disasters. Climate change could economically cost the world much more than the COVID-19 pandemic. Our health also could be affected. Climate change could affect weather patterns, water, air, food, ecosystems, livelihoods and infrastructure. This has the potential to cause death, disability and suffering. How badly this affects our futures will depend on how well we mitigate and prevent disaster. Resilience building efforts may have more public and private support in the post-pandemic world. It will be interesting to see if this can lead outward from health towards the mitigation of potential environmental disasters such as flooding, fires or storms. Current public support for future pandemic resilience could be used to advocate for climate resilience and climate crisis prevention.
The pandemic offers an opportunity to change our economic policies to ensure a more sustainable future. In fact, a growing trend in post-pandemic recovery is the emphasis on environmental action. This has been dubbed as "green recovery". Many scholars and policymakers have emphasized the need to boost environmental protection initiatives in order to mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and prevent future pandemics.
Covid-19 offers significant opportunities for sustainability through the rise of remote working opportunities and the uptake of video-conferencing. Instead of needing to commute to work each day, or even to fly to other countries/cities for meetings, many workplaces are now taking advantage of the opportunity to work remotely. This is a significant opportunity for sustainability as it renders much unsustainable travel unnecessary.
Have a read of this World Economic Forum article outlining how working and shopping from home has gotten 14 million cars off the road in the US alone.