Is the Coronavirus killing the climate?
The pandemic has its positive sides – less traffic, fewer emissions. As always, there are contradictory effects. It’s important to keep the big picture in mind. Since the pandemic started, people have become more concerned about their health and livelihoods. However, climate change remains the greatest challenge of our time.
Sure, people fly less. Experts say that across the world, CO2 emissions dropped by a total of 1,551 tons in the first six months of 2020. Overall, they anticipate a decline of up to eight percent for the year. That’s good for the climate... but puts jobs at risk. Some airlines, for example, expect to use only a quarter of their available capacity in the near future.
Private consumption has also declined during the pandemic. In the EU alone, real per-capita consumption by private households fell by 2.9 percent in the first quarter of 2020. This decline is a further threat to the existence of the small shops that make our city centers attractive and diverse.
Restaurants and bars are suffering financially from the restrictions and temporary closings. To make outside seating more comfortable for guests during the colder months of the year, some establishments are using patio heaters, once banned in many places because they harm the climate: one heater emits four tons of CO2 a year, about as much as a small car traveling 15,000 km.
In order to keep businesses at least partially open, more take-away food is being sold. This is one reason we are currently producing around 20 percent more plastic waste in Germany.
Relieving the strain on the climate in the short term could endanger the existence of people and companies in the long term. So what can we do? Wait until the pandemic is over before turning our attention to the climate again?
Climate change is not taking a break. Nor should we. After all, 40 percent of people around the world say they want to live more sustainably in the future. This is how we can help ...
We can reduce our individual CO2 footprints by making more conscious decisions about how we get around. Bikes have become so popular since the pandemic began that there have been bottlenecks in their production and delivery, especially in large cities.
We can also take care to produce less plastic waste. Where this is unavoidable, we can at least make sure it is recyclable.
We can eat less meat and more local fruit and vegetables. This also relieves the strain on the climate.
Choosing the right bank and investments is a step towards a more sustainable future — without forfeiting returns. Despite being shaken by the corona pandemic, ESG companies in Europe had outperformed the overall market by mid-May this year.
In the first nine months of 2020, we at Deutsche Bank helped clients raise more than 46 billion euros in sustainable financing. In the third quarter of 2020, we underwrote 4 billion euros worth of green bonds — ranking third in terms of volume and second in terms of fee income.
The big picture
Is it more important to use every means possible to get the economy back on its feet, or should achieving climate goals be our top priority? There is no easy answer. It is our responsibility, as a society, to tackle one without sacrificing the other. Governments, corporations, banks, and each and every one of us must make a contribution.
FEWER EMISSIONS: Near-real-time monitoring of global CO2emissions reveals the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Zhu Liu, Philippe Ciais, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber et al. in nature communications, 11, October 2020; Geringere CO2-Emissionen durch Corona-Beschränkungen noch nicht in der Atmosphäre erkennbar, Karlsruher Institut für Technologie, Presseinformation 078/2020
LESS CONSUMPTION: Eurostat, Pressemitteilungen Euroindikatoren 118/2020
CONFLICTING INTERESTS: FAZ.NET, 2020; BUND Landesverband Nordrhein Westfalen, 2020
MORE PLASTIC: Corona stürzt Plastik-Recycling in die Krise, ZDF heute, 2020
RAISING AWARENESS: The Pandemic Is Heightening Environmental Awareness, Boston Consulting Group 2020
INVESTING SUSTAINABLY: Deutsche Bank
OUR CONTRIBUTION: Deutsche Bank, Dealogic
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