The COVID-19 pandemic and climate change aren't directly related, yet the pandemic has changed how we think about this and other global challenges. Actions that would have seemed impossible in January 2020 quickly became realities as the virus spread. These included mass lockdowns, mask mandates, sizable bursts of government spending and public assistance, and—in some countries, at least—vaccination campaigns that proceeded with an urgency typically reserved for wartime mobilization.
Meanwhile, the swift development of vaccines reminded us that human ingenuity can still pull us back from the brink of disaster. Consider, for example, the “COVID-19 emissions dip." This was the 17% drop in emissions that occurred between April 2019 and April 2020. The reduction happened for a terrible reason, but as the skies overhead turned bluer and clearer than they’d been in decades, many experienced a renewed sense of what is possible. The skies over our cities really could be that clean again, and permanently, if people all over the planet worked together and made the right choices.
Given the unexpected lessons of the pandemic year, then, it's no surprise to discover that climate initiatives are getting more ambitious, and are now receiving the aggressive levels of public funding needed for them to succeed.
Following is a brief tour of meaningful climate action programs now taking shape around the globe.