The COVID-19 pandemic has caused animals to return to human dominated habitats and pollution around the world has reduced. This won’t last, as industries re-open and the economies restart, Co2 emissions and other climate problems need to make their own comeback to the centre of public debate.
Generation defining bushfires brought the climate crisis to our front doors last summer, but it was quickly moved to the back of our minds when the pandemic hit. Public health and the economic damage caused by COVID-19 have been the big-ticket items for public debate.
As the pandemic appears to be coming to an end, and we all start to think about a recovery phase, there are growing calls to revive the Australian economy with green, environmentally friendly initiatives.
Greens member for the East Metro Region of WA Tim Clifford says WA has massive potential for green investments.
‘We’ve got one of the flattest, windiest states in the world with huge amounts of coastline,’ he says.
‘We can use our natural resources to create industry that we haven’t had before, that being renewable energy.’
He says existing industries can be re-energised, after the pandemic, by investing in renewables.
‘They’re talking about the potential to create thousands of jobs in the steel industry by using hydrogen to power that industry.’
According to the ABC, global Co2 emissions have dropped 5.8% compared to this time last year. The lockdown has caused some of this reduction, but the growth of renewable energy around the world has been the major reason.
Mr Clifford says this makes sense, because there is significant cash to be made for countries who develop their renewables.
‘There is a huge uptake in renewable energy, because there’s investment there, there’s money there,’ he says.
‘It’s becoming cheaper than a lot of fossil fuels.’
According to the ABC article, renewable electricity generation has increased by 28% in Australia alone. Mr Clifford says this is a step in the right direction, but more can be done.
He says individuals and some corporations are making “sensible and ethical investments” into renewables, but state and federal governments aren’t adopting similar policies.
‘That’s really positive, but we’ve seen a fightback from these (fossil fuel) industries … they have the ear of the Liberal Party, to some extent they have the ear of the Labor Party,’ he says.
‘The reaction from the government is to protect those dinosaur-type industries.’
Mr Clifford points to the North West Shelf gas project as an example of this. He says the state Labor government has publicly supported the Woodside scheme.
This seems to be happening in the Federal Government as well. The National COVID-19 Coordination Commission is the taskforce set up by the Morrison Government to guide Australia’s economic recovery.
It’s been stacked with major players in the fossil fuel industry, and they’ve already suggested environmentally harmful gas projects as the best way to fix the economy.
If you want to see a greener response to the economic crisis, speak to your local MP, and ask what their stance is on climate policy. Have your voice heard.
Calls for climate action have moved online since social distancing rules came in to effect, and as we venture out of lockdown, expect to see more public protests about climate change.
Mr Clifford says strong environmental policies are just as important as economic policies to ensure a safer and stronger Australia emerges out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
‘Things weren’t great pre-COVID and the crisis has exposed a lot of the cracks.’