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Extremely light traffic moves toward downtown Los Angeles, California, March 20, 2020 Extremely light traffic moves toward downtown Los Angeles, California, March 20, 2020 (AP photo by Mark J. Terrill).

Can the Lessons of the Coronavirus Pandemic Be Applied to Climate Change?

Monday, April 6, 2020

As the world grapples with COVID-19, it cannot afford to ignore an even more serious global emergency that will persist long after the pandemic has passed: climate change. Last month, the United Nations issued a dire multiagency report warning that the world is “way off track” on its commitments to cut emissions under the Paris Agreement. Without dramatic and sustained emissions reductions, higher atmospheric and marine temperatures will bring more deadly heat waves, catastrophic storms, rising seas, food insecurity, health crises and mass displacement.

Although emissions have dropped sharply since January with the coronavirus pandemic virtually shutting down entire economies and most air travel, they are sure to surge again as the world economy roars back to life whenever the pandemic ends. Antonio Guterres, the U.N. secretary-general, put it bluntly: “We will not fight climate change with a virus.” Indeed, the pandemic will make progress against global warming even more elusive. ...

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