The perilous Pandemic has shocked the entire world in a blink. Millions died, unemployed, and hospitalized in almost a year. Economic activities, flights, vehicles, and social activities have to be halted. The economy of the world was on the verge of recession. Those were the adverse consequences of the Covid-19.
Whereas, there is a positive side of the viral disease which is in the form of a reduction in climate change. According to the International Energy Agency, the emission of greenhouse gases this year has reduced up to 8%. No doubt, this is an encouraging sign. But, why is there, still, 92% emission when there were no vehicles, flights, and economic activities all over the world? The statistics indicate that the world emits around 47 billion tons of carbon, instead of 51 billion.
So, the existential threat posed by climate change is much strenuous than Covid-19, because of more no of deaths and socio-economic challenges.
Since the spread of the viral disease number of deaths is escalating day by day. Millions have died due to the deadly viral disease. At now, 600,000 people have died as a result of the harmful disease, and the death rate is expected to be 14 per 100,000 people. On the other hand, climate change is more pandemic, in death ratio, as compared to the COVID -19.
In severity, the rise in the global temperature is not less than an endemic. As per the stats, within the next 40 years, the same amount of death would cost due to an increase in the global temperature, as in the case of the COVID. Furthermore, if the global emission grows then more death will be expected per 100,000. Moreover, in the coming days and years, the stiffness may increase to a greater level. By 2060, climate change could be as deadly as COVID, and by 2100 it could be five times as deadly as now.
On the economic front, the issue of climate change is more vulnerable as compared to Covid-19. According to an article, climate change would cost $1 quadrillion, which is equal to $1,000 trillion to the global economy. IMF says this amount is 100 times or more the $9 trillion which the COVID is costing us over the next 80 years. Thus the climate change is more dangerous as compared to the COVID-19 to our economy.
Economists are continuously endeavoring to avert the harshness of climate change. In this way, to avoid these harmful gases, they have devised a mechanism known as “The cost per ton of carbon averted”, which a tool to compare the expense of different carbon reduction strategies.
According to this strategy, if you have a technology that cost $1million, and using it lets that you avert the release of 10,000 tons of gas, you are paying $100 per ton of carbon averted.
But, the ground realities seem different and give a lumpy picture during the Covid-19 lockdown. According to the Rhodium Group, in the US the cost was between $3200 and $5400 per ton. It means that the cost was between 32–54 times the $100 per ton.
Then, where are the alternate solutions to diminish the emission of hazardous gases? Probably, we must lead science and technology makes its way. In this regard, the COVID-19 and lockdown proved to be a good sign. Because the pandemic has altered our meeting mechanism and replaced it with the webinar system. Such methods should be used in the future in place of direct meetings, which require and consume lots of fossil fuels. Moreover, we have to look for more efficient and zero-carbon emission ways of generating electricity, making cars, growing crops, keeping our building warm and cool, and new ways of growing seeds.
Additionally, major producers of greenhouse gases are the third world countries. In such countries to meet the need for electricity lots of fossil fuels are burnt throughout the year. In Pakistan, 34% of electricity is generated by using hydropower, rest are produced by burning fossil fuels. Whereas, the country has committed internationally, under SDGs, that it will reduce emissions through robust policies.
To shift its dependency on fossil fuel to meet the growing electricity need, the World Bank has approved $450 million to Pakistan. Because the country’s production solely depends on production through costly materials. In this regard, the Indicative Generation Capacity Expansion Plan, 2047, prepared by National Transmission and Dispatch Company, focuses on costly generation in the form of coal and RING, ignoring power technology that is set to dominate beyond 2030. This is the reason why the contribution of renewable capacity drops from 31% in 2030 to 23% in 2047, as per the Indicative Generation Capacity Expansion Plan. Thus any solution proposed must include the issues within the systems of the third world countries to reduce the emission of carbon gases.
In sum, climate change is an existential threat in the form of death and insecurity to the economical well-being of the people. Now, a serious attitude needs to be made in this regard to eradicate it. The policymaker must sit one to one to formulate a plan that is more pragmatic in addressing the issue.