“Necessity is the mother of invention”, so the saying goes. During the recent Covid19 crisis, businesses have had to adapt, providing alternative working environments for employees and changing business processes to ensure social distancing guidelines are met.
For the green economy, this has been a positive or the silver lining of the pandemic. Businesses might just start to recognise the importance of reducing their carbon footprint, not only as a cost saver for themselves, but a real benefit to employees.
Businesses are changing the way they are operating due to COVID-19 and are reducing carbon emissions.
Heatwaves, megastorms and Australian wildfires have made 2020 seem like a year when the international business community was ready to make serious changes in the fight against the Earth’s rising temperatures.
Instead, we are facing a virulent coronavirus pandemic that has shut down most economic activity worldwide and sidelined the issue of climate change.
As we struggle to find our path back from COVID-19, companies and governments should not overlook the lessons the virus is teaching us about the need to get ahead of crises.
Seeing the light
Months of lockdown mean businesses have employed strategies being to offset the economic impact on themselves and their staff. A by-product of this has been a dramatic increase in the emissions of greenhouse gases, as more employees have stopped non-essential travel to meetings, other countries and most commonly, the office or workplace.
Companies are constantly making decisions about where to cut costs during the crisis. The cost of office space and equipment is one of these.
Of course, provisions need to be made to allow employees to work from home including any health and safety issues, as well as productivity. But it staff are trusted (which they should be) then the current crisis is allowing businesses to view the future through a green lens.
Previous Carbon Brief analysis showed that the crisis temporarily cut CO2 emissions in China by 25%, with emissions still below normal more than two months after the country entered lockdown.
With dozens more countries enforcing lockdowns in response to the pandemic, a wide range of indicators show how transport use, electricity demand and industrial activity are being cut.
Yet there have been few attempts, thus far, to quantify the consequences for global CO2 emissions.
The coronavirus outbreak has brought Britain to a near standstill, with road travel plummeting by as much as 73%, to levels not seen since 1955.
All forms of travel have plunged in urban areas.
Walking, cycling and car and van journeys are all down by about three-quarters, while bus numbers have fallen by 60%.
The number of large lorries has declined by just 40% as essential supplies continue to be transported.