January 25, 2021 | By Masanori TONEGAWA
What are the By-products of the Covid-19 Crisis?
The novel coronavirus has dropped the world into chaos. But it has also yielded unexpected by-products. One of them is a major reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. People in India, the world's third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, are saying things like "I've never seen the Himalayas so clearly before". How can we connect post-coronavirus recovery to decarbonization? From here on, we will need wisdom for a green recovery.
There are two main forms of green recovery.
The first is investment, as a post-coronavirus economic stimulus measure, focused on building the infrastructure that will be indispensable for decarbonization. The UK is calling for a "Green Industrial Revolution", aiming to cover electric power for all homes with offshore wind power by 2030. For transport, it will invest in thousands of buses that do not emit greenhouse gases, and expand cycle lanes on roads. Germany has set the target of expanding offshore wind power by 5GW by 2030, and is expanding hydrogen stations for cars. The USA is following Europe's lead. President Biden has already announced USD2 trillion of investment in green stimulus measures.
The second is to reorganize industries, transforming their operations towards greenhouse gas reduction, rather than simply restoring pre-coronavirus business as usual. French policy incorporates the decarbonization perspective into support for existing industries. Its rescue of the major airline Air France KLM was conditional on introducing aircraft with lower CO2 emissions in flight, and scrapping domestic routes that compete with rail services. Such measures vividly demonstrate the attitude of advancing decarbonization in society as a whole while reorganizing industries.
And, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has set the target of zero effective emissions of greenhouse gases. The proof will be in whether he can accelerate the introduction and expansion of renewable energy and hydrogen. We will be watching.