The Surprising Climate
Change Benefits of Coronavirus

Kaylee Brzezinski | March 17, 2020 | 4 min read

The Surprising Climate Change Benefits of Coronavirus

Just like that, the entire world has experienced change in its daily routine due to the Coronavirus pandemic, and the need to reduce or stop travel for the sake of global health.

From new strict hand washing regimens to cancelled events or having to work from home, this is without a doubt affecting everything in our daily lives - including our carbon footprint. In fact the environment might just be the only beneficiary of this scary social distancing scenario we are all part of. 

Let's take a look at how Coronavirus is affecting the environment.

Working From Home Means Fewer Carbon Emissions

Working From Home Means Fewer Carbon Emissions

Now more than ever companies are realizing that their business can stay afloat by allowing their employees to work from home in order to keep everyone safe and healthy. A major plus to working from home is that it is good for the environment! Decreasing carbon emissions alone from the daily commute significantly improves air quality. According to The Climate Group, working from home has the potential to reduce over 300 MILLION tonnes of carbon emissions per year. Not to mention all the other awesome benefits such as work/life balance and decreased traffic congestion.

Air Quality Has Improved in Lockdown Areas

Air Quality Has Improved in Lockdown Areas

It has been reported that air quality has improved immensely in both Italy and China since residents have been staying home due to the outbreak. According to China's Ministry of Ecology and Environment, "the average number of "good quality air days" increased 21.5% in February, compared to the same period last year." Carbon emissions are also significantly down in China. Between February 3rd and March 1st they experienced a 25% decrease. Because China is the largest polluter in the world, this is good news for all of us as it could potentially measure to an estimated 200 million tonnes.

The significant changes have been visibly documented by NASA in the images below 

Decreased carbon emissions
Decreased carbon emissions in China - before and after

Italy has also seen a significant drop in air pollution caused by human activities. The timelapse video above comes from the European Space Agency and it documents the nitrogen dioxide reduction from the start of 2020 to this week. Nitrogen dioxide is produced by cars and power plants.

The Venice Canal also appears to be running clearer and cleaner than ever before. Residents of the city have been marveling over its appearance.

Even China's coal consumption has dropped by a whopping 36% from February 3rd to March 1st compared to the same period last year.

China's coal use plummets

But it's not all good news...

Coronavirus Has Also Reduced the Ability for Vital Climate Discussions

The United Nations has had to postpone any climate change talks until at least the end of April, as part of the effort to contain the coronavirus, according to Climate Change News. 12 meetings planned between now and the end of April could be affected.

An EU-China climate summit due to take place at the end of this month has also been postponed, and the critical UN 2020 Biodiversity Conference, scheduled for October now has an uncertain fate. Such events are essential for governments to draft agreements and implement concrete climate action. 

Fridays for Future

And when it comes to social gatherings...

Greta Leads the New Digital Age of Striking

Our fearless #FridaysforFuture leader, Greta Thunberg announced last week that she would not be hitting the streets to protest, instead she would be leading the #DigitalStrike. What does that mean exactly? It might be better to use her words exactly.

"We can’t solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis and we must unite behind experts and science.‬ This of course goes for all crises. Now the experts urge us to avoid big public gatherings for a better chance to #flattenthecurve and slow the spreading of the CoronaVirus. ‪So I personally recommend that we do as the experts say. Especially in high-risk areas.‬ We young people are the least affected by this virus but it’s essential that we act in solidarity with the most vulnerable and that we act in the best interest of our common society. ‪The climate and ecological crisis is the biggest crisis humanity has ever faced but for now (of course depending on where you live) we’ll have to find new ways to create public awareness & advocate for change that don’t involve too big crowds - listen to local authorities. ‪So keep your numbers low but your spirits high and let’s take one week at the time.‬"

We fully support Greta and the young activists shaping the way we now need to do things. Join Greta this Friday and support climate action from home by posting your own sign!

So, if we HAVE to seek a silver lining in all of this, at least we can say that the down time we are taking is benefiting the environment, for now. Just be sure that you are still making wise purchasing decisions when you are stocking up on supplies! And while social distancing can at times feel boring or a bit daunting, take this time to think about how you can better serve the planet. If you need a little inspiration, we have compiled some ways you can keep calm during the Coronavirus outbreak. And as always, planting a tree will make the world a better place!

The Coronavirus' Impact on the Environment

Source: Vennegage

Looking for more info about Coronavirus's impact on the environment? Check out Vennegage's recent post to learn more.

Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most

Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most

As the need for reforestation is global and ever-changing, we feature where trees are most needed now. For Treecember, we're planting trees that support a global forest fire recovery fund. Learn more

With your help, we will:

  • Reforest lands damaged by record-setting fires
  • Support healthy habitat for iconic biodiversity
  • Plant tree species that will help reduce future fire impact
  • This holiday season, we’re planting trees in areas around the world that have been severely affected by forest fires and aren't able to recover a healthy ecosystem on their own. The most common naturally-caused wildfires occur during droughts or dry weather, and under these circumstances, trees and other vegetation are converted to flammable fuel. Human-caused forest fires can be a result of various activities like unregulated slash and burn agriculture, equipment failure or engine sparks, and discarded cigarettes.

    After wildfires, reforestation is essential in areas where the fire intensity burned off available seed supply within the soil, and/or where there are not enough healthy trees still growing and producing new seeds nearby. Reforestation starts once professional assessments have been made to determine where human intervention would be the most ecologically beneficial. Help restore these vital ecosystems by planting a tree. 🌿
  • Every year, forest fires are increasing in size and severity, damaging vital ecosystems and creating a need for millions of trees. Some major consequences of forest fires include significant loss of wildlife, loss of vegetation, soil erosion, air pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions.

    With so much fire damage, reforestation is essential to catalyze the environmental recovery process. The trees are carefully planted to prevent invasive species from colonizing burn scars and restore quality habitat for native biodiversity. One Tree Planted is connecting with on-the-ground partners to establish viable reforestation projects when the recently affected regions are ready for planting. This fund will contribute to planting projects in British Columbia, Idaho, Ghana, Portugal, and beyond. Let's get to work! 🌲
  • A personalized tree certificate (see gallery) to say thanks for your donation. We'll also send you updates about this project, so you can track the impact your trees are having on the community and environment.
  • To maximize the impact of your donation, our partners on the ground will determine the most appropriate species of tree and shrubs. We only plant native tree species that will restore the local ecosystem, re-establish wildlife habitat, and reduce the likelihood of future fires.

Sign Up to our Newsletter

Get good news, reforestation updates, planting event information, and more delivered right to your inbox.