|Hot Topic: Response. As COVID-19 explodes into a full-blown public health crisis and intensifies its grip on the global economy, the U.S. Congress and the White House are working on more than $1 trillion in emergency coronavirus relief packages that will impact specific industries—and our response to the climate crisis—for years to come.
In fossil fuels, the Trump administration has announced plans to purchase 30 million barrels of oil to fill the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) in the midst of collapsing prices, drawing criticism from House Democrats who argue that the move will handicap efforts to combat climate change. And the major airlines pressed the government this week for $50 billion in emergency aid, prompting some lawmakers to insist that the bailout require airlines to commit to reductions to their greenhouse gas emissions over time.
In renewable energy, as with the economy as a whole, solar and wind projects have slowed dramatically in the face of COVID-19, and momentum for many clean energy projects has stalled. Meanwhile, the International Energy Agency has urged governments to weave climate-friendly energy policies into their COVID-19 economic responses, noting that boosting deployment of wind, solar, and battery storage technology will provide the twin benefits of stimulating economies now while moving to cleaner energy in the future.
With leaders around the world debating how to help the ailing economy, decisions like these could have long-term implications for the planet. There is no question that the way world leaders respond to the economic crisis posed by COVID-19 in the months to come will determine how seriously we take the task of staving off our next global crisis—climate change—while we still have the chance.
—Matt & Traci, GMMB