Silver linings to the COVID-19 Pandemic

INTRODUCTION

Many people are suffering during this pandemic, especially those on lower incomes. Helping those most affected should be our immediate priority.

For the next while however, I will be sharing posts about some of the silver linings to this pandemic. In particular, what we learning and what unique opportunities we have now to create a future that’s more sustainable, nature friendly, equitable, fulfilling and fun for everyone.

The Habit of Flying

Copyright to Maureen Howard

The huge reduction of flights globally during this pandemic presents an opportunity for system change that may not come again for a long while. [

Personally I would love to have more affordable rail and greater uptake of intercity buses for land travel, as well as low carbon passenger ships for those oceanic journeys to visit whanau on the other side of the world. Cruise ships are not the answer as their carbon footprints are around four times greater than flying economy class! (on a per passenger basis).

One barrier to travel by ship is time. There are not many workplaces allow us the time needed to take journeys that take some months. But this could be changed, as it has for maternity leave. For example workplaces could offer a year of unpaid leave every five years, that people could use or not, for travel or projects, and have their job kept for them when they return.

Countries are not required to offset/account for international air travel. Just who was responsible was put in the too hard basket. But now that the reset button has been hit for aviation, it’s time to work out a way to include international air travel in the global greenhouse gas emissions footprint of each country. Here’s a interesting piece by transport carbon footprint researcher Dr Inga Smith, at the University of Otago. Thanks Inga!

Inspired by

9th April in The Guardian Flights are grounded – is this the moment we give up our addiction to flying? By Nicole Badstuber

Time to Include carbon emission from International Aviation

So far just which country is responsible for the carbon emissions from a person’s flight has been put in the too hard basket. It’s resulted in the depressing situation that no country is required to include international air travel emissions in their national carbon budget. This is despite international aviation being over 2% of global GHG emissions and growing.

Now that flying has drastically reduced – we have an opportunity to fix this. This is the time to work out a consistent and fair way to include international air travel in the global greenhouse gas emissions footprint of each country. We can’t truly mitigate climate change until we do.

Here’s a interesting piece by transport carbon footprint researcher Dr Inga Smith, at the University of Otago.

Inspired by

10th April, Resilient, ODT A glimpse of aviations future. By Inga Smith


An economy that works for us

During the lockdown, Associate Prof Sara Walton, Dr Diane Ruwhiu and Prof Lisa Ellis from the University of Otago have been putting their heads together (virtually of course) to recommend how we can proceed from here in the New Normal after COVID-19.

Among their suggestions are low carbon solutions that create jobs while building houses to solve the housing crisis, an economy that works for us (rather than us for it!), relocalisation of food production in addition to exporting food, and bicultural wisdom to help shape a new interconnected relationship with the earth and each other.

I love their ideas.

On the topic of housing …

We do need some new housing, but it’s important we plan that well so that it’s not replacing nature, productive farmland or green recreational space. All of these are needed for our sustainable future.

Can we use what we already have better? I’d like us to look harder at how we are using our existing housing. So many of us live alone, with empty bedrooms. The crowded UK’s solution has been to create the ‘bedroom tax’ that targets those in public state housing. Meanwhile the rich live in much larger houses, without penalty. Not an equitable solution.

Perhaps this pandemic will prompt us to think of ways to live more intergenerationally in the same home, so that the people we love most are in our bubble all of the time.

Inspired by

16th April 2020 ODT, Recovery Chance for Real Change.