There is no getting around the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic cloud is horrible, causing loss of untold lives and economic devastation around the world. The need for social distancing and quarantines has decimated the travel industry, and work-from-home constraints have made business offices into ghost towns.
Not surprisingly, medical waste has seen an unprecedented increase, as has waste increased due to more online purchases and increased buys of prepackaged food products. Energy and broadband demands are also up significantly; however, this impact is minimal to carbon emissions. So, where is the silver lining on the COVID-19 cloud?
While it’s a fragile lining, there have been some temporary improvements in the environmental impact areas of carbon emissions and energy. As a result of less air traffic and automotive travel, some US cities have seen as much as a 50% decrease in carbon monoxide emissions. Additionally, Spain has seen a 75% decrease in nitrogen dioxide, Italy has had a 10% reduction, and China’s carbon emissions have fallen by 25%. If history repeats itself, once the pandemic subsides, these numbers are likely to go back up. However, with the successes many companies are seeing with the work-from-home concept, some gains in emission reduction may stay if the businesses embrace a part-time or full-time work-from-home normal.