Lockdown has led to the biggest fall in CO2 emissions since records began, according to new research published in Nature Climate Change. The study reveals that global CO2 emissions dropped by 17% globally last month, compared to April, 2019.
As lockdown measures ease, the challenge is to mainstream some of the positives being generated by this period of transformative change. Because we must remember we were already dealing with an emergency – the climate crisis. Returning to all the old ways that were making that the crisis worse would defy logic.
Innovation makes homeworking easy, and where it is an obvious alternative to the old status quo, it should be the favoured option. The four-day week is another piece of the new world jigsaw that leaders should embrace.
Everything is on table right now.
Learning is being delivered online. So let’s assess where this switch could continue to work well and explore whether a blended education system might offer more to younger students. While learning the basics is essential, the chance to study a greater variety of subjects remotely would inspire and engage learners like never before. If parents have more flexible work scenarios, the chance to increase family time might also prove popular. Likewise higher education institutions could consider if remote teaching could enhance study programmes.
Conferences and exhibitions are also going online at the moment. This means people aren’t travelling and transport emissions are falling. While the social lifeline of interaction is important – where there are virtual, or part virtual alternatives, event organisers should build experiences that are environmentally-friendly.
And when it comes to providing energy for activities, accelerating the transition to renewable power must be a priority.
Another huge challenge globally is to develop support networks that tackle mental health issues, which will have risen due to the pandemic. Though there are many factors that effect it, there is an opportunity to reimagine what lifestyle, work and education mean: to make the world a better place for people and planet.
While an overnight transformation into a new world of human behaviour is not going to happen, innovation – and the lessons of the pandemic – have thrown the door wide open to an immediate future that chooses a more blended way of doing things. We must walk through it together.
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