Before the pandemic, there was a concerted effort from the world leaders to curb the ill effects of global warming and all nations were united towards this endeavor. There was an increased emphasis on mitigating greenhouse gas emissions to achieve net zero with new energy technologies and carbon dioxide removal techniques to meet the Paris Agreement goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Cut to 2020, COVID-19 completely changed the focus of the governments of the world as they worked night and day to curb the impact on human life and eroding economies through this difficult pandemic period.
During this period, however, as the world came to a complete standstill, we have unwittingly reaped some benefits from less vehicular pollution, less travel, low carbon emissions, etc. A landmark study in impact of pandemic protocols on environment stated that, “Daily global CO2 emissions decreased by –17% in April 2020 compared with the mean 2019 levels, just under half from changes in surface transport. At their peak, emissions in individual countries decreased by –26% on average.”
This impact however, has been a drop in the ocean in mitigating global warming. A study concluded that, “The effect of lockdown’s temporary fall in CO₂ emissions was negligible. Even if some lockdown measures stay in place for the best part of two years, global temperatures will still only be 0.01°C lower than if we followed an emission pathway where the pandemic never happened.”
The worry now is to see how countries recover from the economic repercussions of this pandemic. If the economic recovery is built on the reliance on traditional fossil fuels and building materials, it will not only increase greenhouse gas emissions on top of existing plans by 10% by 2030 but also lead to a further setback in our chances of reaching the Paris Agreement goal to mitigate dangerous climate change.
Nonetheless, the pandemic has allowed us an opportunity to understand that without combined global action we are still heading on a path towards dangerous climate change. It is important now to focus on green building initiatives to aid countries in achieving their emission targets and curb green house effects. This can be done by investing in sustainable construction materials, achieving energy efficiency in buildings using Exterior Insulation Finishing Systems (EIFS) / Exterior Thermal Insulation Systems (ETICS) and research on key energy efficient technologies.