Opinion: Learning From The COVID-19 Pandemic About Climate Change

Opinion: Learning From The COVID-19 Pandemic About Climate Change

Every state will need to have its own unique policy blueprint for how it can contribute to climate change while also helping residents enjoy the benefits of a transition to clean energy and a low-emissions economy, writes Suresh Kumar Kotla and Divya Banerjee from the Institute for Sustainable Communities
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Opinion: Learning From The COVID-19 Pandemic About Climate ChangeMore than 189 countries have joined the Paris Climate Agreement, representing more than 81 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions and developing long-term plans to decarbonise their economies

To understand the kind of havoc that climate change can wreak, one can exert examples from the COVID-19 spread and its implications, but for a much more extended period. The loss of lives and economic misery caused by the pandemic reflects what will repeatedly happen to the world if the carbon emissions are not eliminated. A report by Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change (2020) includes novel indicators on heat-related mortality, migration and population displacement, urban green spaces, and the economic costs of labor capacity loss due to extreme heat. The magnitude of the indicators has intensified scientific understanding of how climate affects health and puts stress on health systems. Treatment of the resultant health conditions depends mainly on healthcare sectors’ capacity, which relies on the resilience of health services, which is already overstretched.

Also Read: Despite COVID Pandemic, Carbon Dioxide In The Air At Highest Level Since Measurements Began

Both COVID-19 and the climate crisis have revealed that the underprivileged and marginalised sections of society are always the most vulnerable to such disasters. According to a report by the Guardian, 100 companies are responsible for 71 per cent emissions and the world’s richest 10 per cent make 52 per cent of the world’s income, who are responsible for 50 per cent of emissions; the poorest 50 per cent get only 8 per cent of the world income and are responsible for only 10 per cent of emissions. Unfortunately, those impacted the most have usually contributed the least to the root causes of the crisis.

While the innumerable intertwined crises have impacted the nation – (health, economy, inequality, and leadership), we need to infer ways to become more responsible and sustainable, as the clock is ticking.

Also Read: What Are The Learnings From The Pandemic That Can Help In Restoring Our Earth, Experts Speak

According to a report, the green recovery could cut expected emissions in 2030 by up to 25 per cent and boost the chance of keeping temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius by up to 66 percent.

Supporting net-zero-based technologies and infrastructure, reducing dependency on fossil fuel subsidies, and promoting nature-based solutions must be prioritised. More than 189 countries have joined the Paris Climate Agreement, representing more than 81 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions and developing long-term plans to decarbonise their economies.

To date, the energy sector — including electricity, transport, manufacturing, buildings, fugitive, and other fossil fuels — remains the most significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions over any other industry, representing 73 per cent of global emissions in 2017.

Opinion: Learning From The COVID-19 Pandemic About Climate Change
Sector-wise greenhouse gas emissions in India from multiple data source (CAIT, PIK, UNFCCC, GCP)

The COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated the importance of transparency and leadership in building trust. Similarly, strong leadership will be needed to tackle climate change. The lessons learned from COVID-19 can be applied to address the consequences of climate change in a more informed manner.

Also Read: Global Warming Responsible For One In Three Heat-Related Deaths, Study Affirms

The governments are spending a colossal amount of stimulus plans to rescue their ailing economies, mainly addressing job losses and the economic damage inflicted by lockdowns. There is massive scope to heading the cash flow towards reducing carbon emissions.

As per the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) of India, the target for capacity addition from renewable energy is the lowest in 2019-20, indicating that the sector needs urgent policy and financial support. According to the target set by MNRE 12.8 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity has to be added from five major sources that are — wind power, solar energy, small hydro electric power, biopower, and organic waste materials.

Also Read: Net Zero By 2050: International Energy Agency Calls For Unprecedented Transformation Of How Energy Is Produced

The first annual jobs census measuring employment from decentralised renewables for rural electrification in Africa and Asia has estimated that by 2023 the sector will create 4,00,000 jobs in India – including 1,90,000 direct, formal jobs – almost double the current number, as well as 2,10,000 direct, informal jobs. Supported by Schneider Electric Foundation and The Rockefeller Foundation, the census (surveying India, Kenya and Nigeria) aims to spotlight the energy skills needed to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 ─ access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. In 2018, the energy demand was 12,12,134 GWh, and the availability was 12,03,567 GWh, i.e., a deficit of 0.7 per cent.

According to the Load Generation and Balance Report (2016–2017) of the Central Electricity Authority of India (CEA), the electrical energy demand for 2021–2022 is anticipated to be at least 1915 terawatt hours (TWh), with a peak electric demand of 298 GW. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), a quarter of India’s energy demand can be met with renewable energy. India has set itself some ambitious targets with aiming 175 gigawatts (GW) of renewable capacity by the year 2022 and 450 GW by 2030.

Also Read: Global Carbon Emissions Set For Second-Biggest Increase In History: International Energy Agency

Along with the lower cost of utility scale projects, mass production, and awareness, attractive Government policies and regulations with regards to boosting the energy efficiency sector, will play a pivotal role in helping the country reach the goal. Every state will need to have its own unique policy blueprint for how it can contribute to climate change while also helping residents enjoy the benefits of a transition to clean energy and a low-emissions economy. Educating businesses and citizens on the benefits of renewable sources of energy adoption will be a positive step towards transitioning to clean energy thus reducing reliance on fossil fuels. Combining approaches at the government and institutional level with bottom-up approaches rooted in regional, national, and local knowledge, while encouraging Ministries for planning or financing the initiative, to be fully involved in mainstreaming adaptation is expected.

Also Read: 8 States Highly Vulnerable To Climate Change: Report

(Suresh Kumar Kotla is the Director, Energy & Environment and Divya Banerjee is Research Assistant at Institute for Sustainable Communities.)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene


Coronavirus has spread to 194 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 19,89,21,889 and 42,35,871 have died; 6,44,02,340 are active cases and 13,02,83,678 have recovered as on August 3, 2021 at 3:55 am.


3,17,26,507 30,549Cases
3,08,96,354 38,887Recovered
4,25,195 422Deaths
In India, there are 3,17,26,507 confirmed cases including 4,25,195 deaths. The number of active cases is 4,04,958 and 3,08,96,354 have recovered as on August 3, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths

63,15,063 4,869

78,700 3,650

61,03,325 8,429

1,33,038 90


34,25,473 13,984

1,65,834 2,057

32,42,684 15,923

16,955 118


29,08,284 1,285

24,045 123

28,47,627 1,383

36,612 25

Tamil Nadu

25,63,544 1,957

20,385 139

25,09,029 2,068

34,130 28

Andhra Pradesh

19,70,008 1,546

20,582 437

19,36,016 1,968

13,410 15

Uttar Pradesh

17,08,500 24

646 18

16,85,091 42


West Bengal

15,29,295 575

10,803 171

15,00,331 734

18,161 12


14,36,401 51

538 44

14,10,809 95



10,02,458 236

1,918 1

9,87,012 234

13,528 3


9,79,737 1,032

13,318 820

9,60,386 1,785

6,033 67


9,53,704 16

241 9

9,44,509 25



8,24,922 22

251 3

8,14,595 25


Madhya Pradesh

7,91,862 17

132 7

7,81,217 10



7,69,956 14

703 12

7,59,614 25

9,639 1


7,24,917 37

401 34

7,14,872 71



6,45,997 591

8,819 54

6,33,371 643

3,807 2


5,99,162 32

473 31

5,82,395 63



5,68,257 1,275

12,429 213

5,50,534 1,469

5,294 19


3,47,223 23

239 15

3,41,855 38



3,42,198 37

574 35

3,34,261 71

7,363 1

Jammu And Kashmir

3,21,725 118

1,254 43

3,16,090 73

4,381 2

Himachal Pradesh

2,06,369 208

1,304 75

2,01,543 132

3,522 1


1,71,295 90

1,027 16

1,67,118 72

3,150 2


1,21,059 54

944 38

1,18,320 92



99,872 541

9,814 591

88,480 1,120

1,578 12


79,026 304

3,104 12

75,167 292



65,939 350

5,843 200

58,987 537

1,109 13


61,960 6

33 3

61,116 3


Arunachal Pradesh

48,565 305

3,508 167

44,823 469

234 3


40,111 748

12,316 127

27,642 618

153 3


28,004 59

1,300 44

26,130 99

574 4


26,880 126

3,323 131

23,211 256

346 1


20,345 5

57 0

20,081 5


Dadra And Nagar Haveli


15 9

10,631 9



10,207 12

79 4

10,078 8


Andaman And Nicobar Islands


6 1

7,404 1


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