Coronavirus outbreak some think may prove as a blessing in disguise to switch the country’s future to green energy. The recent bushfires in Australia have once again highlighted the importance of shifting towards more renewable energy. But experts also think that the nation may lose the momentum needed for a shift amidst COVID-19 outbreak.
As the country looks to revive its economy, scientists proposed that Australians should invest innovatively in solar, wind and hydroelectric projects. The country this summers has gone through a hell as bushfires sparked by drought and rising temperatures killed 33 people and erased 3,000 homes. Millions of hectares of bush, forest and parks were also ruined by blazes of summer.
Professor Mark Howden associated with the Climate Change Institute at the Australian National University said memories of “the droughts and the fires and the smoke haze across major cities have dissipated with the arrival of COVID-19”.
“And clearly the momentum for the change in relation to climate here in Australia has dissipated quite considerably too.”
Australia makes about 1.5 percent of the world’s total carbon emissions and its fossil fuels exported to Indian and China account for an additional 3.6% carbon emissions. Professor Howden suggests that reduction of carbon emissions should be the top priority of the country in the execution of virus recovery plan.
“When you have significant disruption like this, it does give you an opportunity to move forward on a different trajectory form the one you are on previously,” he added.
While there is a spike in use of renewables in Australia – last year 24% of the electricity production was drawn from renewable resource – the present administration is very hesitant to phase out the use coal in favor of greener options.
The Liberal-National government last year gave Indian company Adani the green signal to start the construction of a controversial coal mine in Queensland. And a recent report reveals that Australia is only second to China in to activate the number of new coal-powered plants in development. Professor Matthew England of the Climate Change Research Center said it would turn disastrous for Australian if post-virus economic recovery plan is once again encroached by coal and cheap carbon. “Because we know that those carbon emissions will change our planet’s climate in very dangerous ways”.
Australians have so far fared better during the corona outbreak with under 7,000 confirmed cases and 83 fatalities as of late April.
Chief Australian Economist at BIS Oxford Economics, Sarah Hunter said the government now had the headspace required to develop and execute is long-term economic response.
“Serious discussion around energy policy” should be part of measures to support recovery and growth, she said, especially while there was a fairly “co-operative environment” between the government, opposition and industry.
“Obviously nobody wanted what’s happening right now. But if it does mean that we get an acceleration of some of these reforms that can be very positive in the long run.”
The environment change experts at WHO have warned that while more than 200,000 people have lost their lives battling Corona, an additional 250,000 will die every year, if action is not taken to lower the rising earth temperatures.