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The Energy Shift, How the Coronavirus is Affecting the Environment

house with solar panels
Photo by Vivint Solar from Pexels.

How will COVID-19 and its economic and oil crises affect the record gains made in clean energy?

Before the global pandemic, America began making more strides towards renewable energy with Virginia becoming the first state in the South to adopt a clean-energy transition by 2050. As the Coronavirus continues, questions about its effect on the environment arise. Eric Roston sustainability editor at Bloomberg discusses how the pandemic could shape the current state of energy both in the U.S. and across the globe.

“We’ve seen 4 billion people stop leaving home, and we’re only going to see emissions down 5-8% down this year. [That’s] not a strong vote of confidence that individuals can do this alone.” - Eric Roston, sustainability editor at Bloomberg

More from Eric Roston: How Global Trade Pacts Award ‘Subsidies’ for Climate Pollution;
Future Warming Arriving Earlier Than Expected, Study Finds.

The show airs live Fridays at 2 pm on VPM News 88.9 FM and reairs Saturday at 6:00 p.m. and Sundays at 8:00 p.m.

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Episode excerpt

The following excerpt was edited for clarity.

[20:46]

Roben Farzad: What do we need to cut exactly to get out a goal, let's say by 2030? This is the tragedy of it in that when the world does have to be coordinated like it does in a global pandemic, and countries have to share notes and work with the CDC and the WHO. We haven't exactly crushed it this time around. There wasn't all that transparency. It’s almost like a dress rehearsal for how coordination is going to happen when we get closer to say, you know, the goal of zero emissions by 2050. It's not up to one or two or three countries.

Eric Roston: That's right. Two thoughts, one is, to some extent, climate change has already been the dress rehearsal that we missed for COVID-19. In Europe in 2003 almost 70,000 people died during the most extraordinary heatwave that had occurred until that time. And it turned out that many of those deaths were due to the fact that the public health system was overrun and could not handle more patients. And that was sort of a warning shot that nobody heard. These kinds of events that strain our medical profession in many parts of our infrastructure are going to become increasingly common. We're looking at a summer now where the oceans are hotter than they've ever been. God forbid we have hurricanes come up the southeast coast or through the Gulf. No one wants to see hurricanes or flooding or wildfires causing many people to leave their homes at a time when nobody's supposed to be within six feet of each other. Scientists and companies are now starting to look at these compound events trying to figure out what their risks are. What do you do if you have a pandemic in a hurricane? Nobody’s had to think about that before.

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