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The Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has taken the world for a toss, and has led to the imposition of lockdowns and compulsory quarantining in almost all affected countries. The pandemic has managed to bring to a standstill the functioning of most industries and trade, but amidst all this chaos caused- Covid- 19 has helped replenish the environment and the climate.

Due to lockdowns in existence, the use of locomotives and other modes of travel has been considerably reduced thus resulting in a reduced level of air pollution across the globe. Especially in India, after the 21-day lockdown period, there was lower vehicular emissions, industrial pollution, burning of crop- residue, waste etc. Thus, the air quality has improved in many of the urban areas to the extent of even 75 percent reduction in the particular matter concentrations over the Indo- Gangetic basin. The lock down has been so effective in controlling air pollution that scientist now recommend such imposition lockdown as a mechanism  of state intervention in times of extreme pollution.[2] The resulTS are almost astonishing across the world.  Spain saw a 14% decrease in rush-hour traffic, resulting I them being able to finally staying within the EU limits. Further, a Stanford research scholar stated that the improvement of air quality approximately saved the lives of 4000 children under the age of 5 and 73, 000 senior citizens (above 70 years).[3]

In addition to getting improved air quality, there also seems to be a considerable reduction in water pollution as well. Such reduction in toxins in the biosphere has indirectly helped restore flora and fauna across nations. It was identified that Canal Waters have cleared up giving rise to a plethora of fishes being spotted, in many places’ animals like deer, peacocks, monkeys, elephants etc have been seen loitering on the streets. In fact, a number of gangetic dolphins have been noticed as the rivers have been devoid of waste effluents. The pandemic has also resulted in stark reduction in fossil fuel consumptions and carbon dioxide emissions.

However, on the flip side, the distraction caused by the pandemic acted as a cover for a lot of illegal activities that have damaged the environment. It has led to around 55% increase in deforestation, especially as a result of fires in the Amazon Rainforest,[4] there is also a surge in bush meat poaching in African Countries.

Legal Aspects and Policy Making Suggestions:

Since most industries will be pro active towards recovering from the losses caused due to Covid-19, the policy makers are to draft legislations focusing on the use of clean energy especially with respect to polluting industries like Coal, Oil, Chemical etc., inorder to maintain the quality of the environment.[5] The restoration packages that are to formulated for industries must include sustainable ways to recover from the lost economy.

As the COP 21 summit has been postponed, counties are being urged to present more stringent and tougher plans to meet the Paris Agreement Goals while balancing recovery from Covid-19. In the same regard, Carolina Schmidt (Chilean Environment Minister) and Patricia Espinosa (UN Climate Change Head) emphasize on a green transition. According to them, “Soon, economies will start. This is a chance for nations to recover better, to include the most vulnerable in those plans, and a chance to shape the 21st economy in ways that are clean, green, healthy, just, safe and more resilient.”[6] Countries like Marshall Islands, Suriname, Moldova and Norway have submitted updated and ambitious plans to the United Nations.  An important platform that is to be regulated by proper legislation after deliberation by the governments, Central Banks, The International Monetary Fund, World Bank is the ‘National Covid-19 Economic Stimulus Package’. These packages could be at a higher level around 10 % of the overall economy, thereby being able to channel a smoot shift to a low carbon economy.[7]

Moreover, the occurrence of the coronavirus pandemic has brought to light the danger of zoonotic diseases ( passed form animals to humans), thus calling for the proper implementation of the CITES and encourage reforms if needed. The WWF has urged China to reform the existing Wildlife protection law and has suggested expanding the protection coverage of the law, adopting rigorous wildlife utilization standards, strengthening penalties etc.[8] As a result of the same Wuhan has officially banned eating of wild animals.[9] The same steps have been taken by many other countries.

Further, as a result of the virus, there has been a huge levels of unemployment which might especially in African countries promote the hunting if animals for ivory and other products to gain income, so it is prerogative that the governments enact schemes for immediate restoration rather that pave a way for illegal activities that indirectly affect the environment.

The pandemic has opened our eyes to the impact human activities have on nature, which ultimately reflects adversely on us. It is high time that our governments formulate and amend laws to protect the environment, maintain the positive changes and restrict activities that affect both humans and animals in a negative manner. The Post Covid-19 times call for pro-active participation of the governments to ensure sustainable and an eco- friendly development.

  • [1] S.K. Sateesh, Professor at Centre for Atmospheric &  Oceanic Sciences, IISc – The Hindu, New Delhi, June 4, 2020 ( published at 13:02 IST):  https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/covid-19-lockdown-like-interventions-may-help-combat-air-pollution-in-india-say-scientists/article31746151.ece
  • [2] ‘Covid-19 lockdown-like steps may help combat air pollution: Scientists’, Business Standard, New Delhi, June 4, 2020 ( published at 14:54 IST): https://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/covid-19-lockdown-like-steps-may-help-combat-air-pollution-scientists-120060400715_1.html
  • [3] ‘6 ways coronavirus is changing the environment’, Politico, March 18, 2020 (updated at 5:07 CET): https://www.politico.eu/article/6-ways-coronavirus-is-changing-the-environment/
  • [4] ‘Covid-19 pandemic ‘opportunity’ to change environmental laws: Brazil Minsiter’, Ronson Rodrigues, Down To Earth, May 28, 2020: https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/environment/covid-19-pandemic-opportunity-to-change-environmental-laws-brazil-minister-71416
  • [5] ‘Air pollution in China back to pre-Covid levels and Europe may follow’, Damian Carrington and Niko Kommenda, The Guardian, June 3, 2020 ( published at 9:18 BST): https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jun/03/air-pollution-in-china-back-to-pre-covid-levels-and-europe-may-follow
  • [6] ‘Cop26 climate talks postponed to 2021 amid coronavirus pandemic’, Climate Home News, June 4, 2020 ( published at 8:50 pm): https://www.climatechangenews.com/2020/04/01/cop26-climate-talks-postponed-2021-amid-coronavirus-pandemic/
  • [7] Ten Areas Where Covid- 19 Responses have Increased Environmental Risks, Nishan Degnarain, Forbes, April 16, 2020 ( published at 02:36 am EDT): https://www.forbes.com/sites/nishandegnarain/2020/04/16/ten-areas-where-covid-19-responses-are-leading-to-environmental-setbacks/#958705e42529
  • [8] ‘ WWF urges China to set global example as it mulls revision of the Wildlife Protection Law’, WWF, May 21, 2020: https://wwf.panda.org/wwf_news/press_releases/?363735/WWF-urges-China-to-set-a-global-example-as-it-mulls-revision-of-the-Wildlife-Protection-Law
  • [9] Evening Standard, Imogen Baraddick, May 20, 2020 (published at 19:18): https://www.standard.co.uk/news/world/wuhan-ban-eating-wild-animals-coronavirus-bats-a4446491.html

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