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Coronavirus: the impact on the environment

  • by JW

Can the pandemic be seen as a trial run for a zero-carbon world?


There have been huge impacts following lockdown:

Dramatic drops in air pollution

A permanent shift towards home working…

The picture is not that clear, however:

Mixed signals for sustainability

Especially as low CO2 emissions in China are also a mixed signal:

Carbon emissions are really tricky to measure precisely

It’s about trying to bring some perspective to bear:

Perceived risk vs actual risk


Today’s Costing the Earth on Radio 4 looked at the latest understandings of how the virus has been impacting the environment:


Covid-19: the environmental impact

Tom Heap talks through the environmental issues emerging during the coronavirus pandemic and asks what the legacy might be. He’s joined by climate change expert Dr Tamsin Edwards from King’s College, London to examine the effect of the lockdown.

With millions of people now working from home, planes being grounded and fewer cars on the roads, what level of environmental improvement has there been, and will that be reversed once our lives return to normal?

With the help of experts from the fields of climate change, remote working, ecology and environmental standards, we track the changes in air pollution and global temperature.

What will the return to ‘normal’ look like? With the UK aiming to be carbon neutral by 2050, Tom asks whether the pandemic can be seen as a trial run for a zero-carbon world. And, with the international climate meeting COP26 postponed, Tamsin considers how international climate targets might be affected.

With contributions from Christiana Figueres – architect of the Paris climate agreement, environmental psychologist Lorraine Whitmarsh, air quality expert David Carslaw, Gina McCarthy of the Natural Resources Defense Council, business communications specialist Jon Sidwick and Julian Newman from the Environmental Investigation Agency.

Covid-19: the environmental impact |