Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

COVID-19 and its impact on climate talks

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : COVID-19 and its impact on climate change negotiation

Context

  • Amidst the pandemic, people are breathing cleaner air and are witness to clearer, bluer skies as the human movement has been restricted due to lockdowns imposed by various countries.
  • But while the air may be getting cleaner, the lockdowns are not exactly good news for climate change research.
  • Climate talks are witnessing setbacks in the form of funding cuts, cancelled climate conferences and reduced political will to tackle climate change.

COVID-19 impacting climate change research

  • The hard paced climate change research has been halted and it might become difficult to restart the conversation around it, even after the pandemic is brought under control.
  • The major projects that were scheduled to gather environmental data have all been cancelled or postponed and the crisis has also cast a shadow on routine monitoring of weather and climate change.
  • Further, because commercial flights are running at a lesser frequency, it has also become difficult to collect ambient temperatures and the wind speed, which is taken by in-flight sensors.
  • The other reason that other research has more or less been halted is because of restrictions including lockdowns, insistence on working from home and other social distancing requirements.

Scope for a back seat

  • Due to the looming health crisis, human kind’s immediate survival is the biggest concern at the moment.
  • However, completely ignoring environmental policy may not be in humanity’s best interest.
  • Largely we still view the environment, and life on earth, as separate. This separation is a dangerous delusion.
  • We can and must do better if we want to prevent the next infectious pandemic.

Climate change and infectious diseases are not separate

  • The two are not directly related, which is to say that climate change did not lead to the spread of the coronavirus.
  • However, there is a possibility that climate change could have exacerbated the impact of COVID-19 by making the consequences worse for some humans.
  • For instance, air pollution’s impact on human health could make some consequences of the disease more severe for a few humans.
  • A 2003 study on air pollution and the case fatality rate for SARS showed that people exposed to air pollution were more likely to suffer severe consequences from the disease.
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