Removal of lockdown on coronavirus: Its effect on climate change

By Asitha Jayawardena

On 16 April 2020, Dominic Raab, deputising for Boris Johnson, put forward a plan for ending the lockdown for coronavirus. The fall in death rate daily and the ability of the NHS to cope with it are among the points that he mentioned as well as the NHS wouldn’t hit by a second wave.

What will happen on climate change when the lockdown is removed?

Improvements in air quality

In the UK the motorways as well as other types of roads are empty when the country is in lockdown for another 2 to 3 weeks. Even outside the UK, newspapers displayed the comparison of cities in January and April this year, showing the difference between the two when the NO2 is used.

Imagine when the lockdown is over, will the average person jump into the car to travel to the corner shop to buy a loaf of bread and a bottle of milk? Or will he select walking if the shop is not far?

Due to restriction of air travel, many airlines have cancelled the most of flights or are grounded in response to the lockdown. People outside UK have difficulty in catching a home bound flight.

Suppose the lockdown is ended, will the average person in the UK think about Thailand for his family to have a summer vacation in summer? Or will he or she select Lake District instead?

In China, industries shut down when coronavirus gradually expanded around initially Wuhan and then the country. Other countries, including UK, followed the suite.

Once the lockdown is finished, will people prefer the polluted surroundings? Or will they like the unpolluted settings?

Working online

During the lockdown, many people who would have travelled by car to the workplace worked online if it’s possible and the Zoom or Skype meetings happened regularly.

Given the pollution factor, will they take the car to go work when the normality started? Or would they think twice and ask the owner or manager if they can work online at least part-time – the work that they did during the lockdown?

Letter from CEO Committee on Climate Change

Although this deed has nothing to do with the ease of the lockdown, this will have an impact on climate change.

The Committee on Climate Change, or CCC, will write to ministers the initial advice on making a just transition towards net zero emissions on the sixth carbon budget covering 2033-2037 while strengthening the UK’s preparedness to climate change in years to come. The report will be published in December 2020.

“Responding to the pandemic is, rightly, the immediate priority for everyone,” CCC chief executive Chris Stark said. “Eventually, thoughts will turn to the need to rebuild after coronavirus – the climate priorities can help shape these efforts. The committee will offer advice to government on constructing a resilient recovery.”

Coronavirus or not, this is what we want. It doesn’t matter if it’s coming on improving the air quality, working online and letter of CEO CCC to the ministers on climate preparedness.

As said earlier, covid-19 is weeks and months; climate change is years and decades. And much more critical is climate change!


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