Climate change in time of COVID-19 pandemics

  • {{"article.by"|translate}} Pavlina Zdraveva
  • {{"article.posted"|translate}} 11-05-2020

Climate change in time of COVID-19 pandemics



Although the media have been flooded with articles and discussions about the negative impacts of COVID-19 pandemics, the last two months have also brought a lot of “positives”: less anxiety and aggression, no rush, lots of family time.

The isolation has given us time to think about a lot of things that we took for granted. Even more, it gave us a chance to stop, take a deep breath and continue further in a smarter and more sustainable manner. How many new clothes do we need? How many pairs of shoes? How much bigger apartment? How much bigger car? I haven't used my car in a month; I cook the same delicious food in the big fancy kitchen at home with modern appliances as in the miniature kitchen in the weekend house... The most important things are my family to be healthy and to have food on the table. My children have recently announced: “We have never been happier. We are all at home and we eat a nice lunch every day!”

Still, there is one thing about this situation that I like and scares me at the same time: the silence! It is nice to seat on the balcony and listen to the birds that came back to the city, but the empty streets  give me goosebumps... Is this the future that our children will have? I do not wish them such future, and that is the main motive to do something,  to raise my voice rather than stay silent! And I am not the only one...

The whole team that in the past period was working on climate change projects, implemented by The Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning (MOEPP) and the UN Development Program (UNDP), had only one goal: to present the vision about the future that we want to as many people as possible and motivate them to act. During isolation and curfew, we had a series of fifteen webinars attended by surprisingly high number of attendees. Some webinars were open for the public, some of them were held within a narrower team of technical associates, but nobody said: I am not working, I am at home, I am at vacation, I don't want to participate, I can't join in…

But in order to start the discussion about the future, first we need to answer the question:

Where are we now?

Climate change is related to many aspects of our lives. In the professional jargon, we call them sectors. And we know where we stand from the numbers which tell us how much greenhouse gases we emit in every one of those sectors. Mostly, climate change in our country is related to energy and fossil fuels (coal and natural gas) used for electricity production. But this will soon change. Two new sectors, transport and waste are grabbing fast forward, emitting more and more greenhouse gasses every year. How many old vehicles are there which nobody will want to buy? What are we going to do with them? Also, have you seen the news that during this pandemic Macedonian households generate more waste? That is why the waste sector was discussed in all three webinars from this series.

The webinars from this series are available on this link.

Future without climate change?

Future in which we are going to be part of Europe, the first continent to be "carbon neutral" by 2050. Scientific analyses made by the Macedonian universities and academia show that climate resilient green growth is possible. The GHG emissions can be reduced up to 82%, compared to the emission levels in 1990. Scientific research has also shown the right path to get there: by implementing 47 measures and policies (32 in the energy sector, 11 in agriculture, forestry and land use change and 4 in the waste sector). This transition will drive almost 10.000 new green jobs by 2035.

                                                                                                                                                                   



The whole webinar is available on this link.

But how are we to decide which measures are more important, which need to be implemented first and which last?

Ms Natasha Markovska, PhD, has developed the tool for that, a Methodology for Prioritization of Climate Actions. It can be used to prioritize a given set of projects/actions on local or national level in any area: climate change mitigation, adaptation or in a combination of two or several areas, so called cross-sectoral prioritization. Proper prioritization of climate actions can actually speed the low-carbon development.

"As many as possible stakeholders should be involved in the process. It is especially important to include stakeholders which are most affected by the measures which are to be prioritized", says Markovska.

The whole webinar is available on this link.

Do technological development and innovations in our country go hand in hand with climate change?

Development of future climate technologies around the world is extremely intensive and important, but our country does not always follow this pace. Valentina Gechevska, PhD, summarized the current stage of research, development, innovations and transfer of technology in relation to climate change and what is necessary to speed up the process for transfering now the technologies of the future.

Climate technologies are a significant challenge for our country. An excellent opportunity to act upon this challenge is to use the Technology Transfer Mechanism (TT:Clear Mechanism) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The first step to join the TT:Clear Mechanism family is to select and nominate the most suitable institution from the public, private of NGO sector to act as designated national institution. Ms. Gechevska has deployed comprehensive methodology to identify which institution this should be: and it is the Macedonian Fund of Innovation and Technological Development (FITD).

A climate change debate is not a luxury but an urgent need. After the pandemic we will need "green recovery" in our economy and bold climate action. As soon as possible we need to make a step forward as a country and nominate a representative institution for the TT:Clear Mechanism.

The whole webinar is available on this link.

But, what if after the pandemic we go back to our old way of life? What will our future be like in that case?

I experienced the first pandemic and the first extreme weather events (floods, droughts, heat waves) with casualties in my forties. My daughter has seen them in the first ten years of her life. While she turns 40, how many of those events and pandemic will she have experienced? What will be our life like in 10/20/30/70 years?

Mr. Vladimir Djurdevic, PhD, has been contracted to investigate how the climate, the precipitation and the extreme weather events will change, how frequent they will be, how severe, what regions will be most affected? He provided answers to all these questions not only the whole country, but also for the three regions which have already been identified as the most vulnerable: Strumica, Polog and Skopje.

The results were as expected: climate extreme events will not only be more frequent and harsher, they closely correlate with the greenhouse gas emissions. The more we emit the more extreme climate we will have. Do not invest in skiing gear because there will be less and less snow. There will be no rain when we need it, but we will have strong torrential rains. Water has become a resource that even now needs to be used wisely. We will have longer heat waves and tropical nights, longer periods when even for 2 months we will have to stay 24h at home with our air conditioners on. The temperature changes will be followed by seasons change and longer summers, mostly affecting agriculture. There will be more rainfall with uneven distribution, which will increase the risk of floods and problems caused by flooding.

The webinars from this series are available on this link

Overwhelmed by false news?

Find the right sources to learn more about climate change! Only by learning and acquiring knowledge we can choose the right direction. Your first stop shops should be: the national climate change communication platform www.klimatskipromeni.mk, @klimatskipromenimk on Facebook and Instragram. If you do not find an answer to your questions write to us. We will answer.

Give #ClimateAction to our future!

Pavlina Zdraveva

All reports serving as baseline for the statements above can be found here,  within the section relate to the 3rd Biennial Update Report on Climate Change.

Pavlina Zdraveva

Pavlina Zdraveva, head od climate change projects, UNDP

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