The lockdowns forced by the pandemic, research now says, may not have moved the needle much in terms of lowered emissions. To be sure, the annual emission may see a significant dent, but, in the larger picture, it is likely to have very little impact. Opening up will ensure that the brief pause was just an aberration. Against such a backdrop, a recent study published in Nature Climate Change should serve as a reminder of why we can’t keep pushing climate action under the carpet much longer. A climate model developed by the UK Met’s Hadley Centre forecasts that, in fifteen years, the Arctic could be free of sea-ice.
The model looks at melt-pond (shallow pools on the surface of Arctic sea-ice in summer and spring) data, with the last interglacial (warm period for the planet) informing the estimation of the impact on ice from global heating this time around. With such a close deadline, governments will need to adopt low-carbon paths for their economies urgently. Numerous reports have already spelt out how close we are to the point-of-no-return on catastrophic warming of the planet; indeed, some even fear that we may have already crossed it. The pandemic is likely to interfere in climate action plans; with economies reeling under lockdowns, adoption of climate-friendly growth strategies will be hard; there will be the fear of livelihoods lost in transition from conventional fossil-fuel energy to renewable energy to contend with too. But, without urgent climate action, the world fries.