A Pandemic Towards A Greener World | By Vikrant Sharma

A Pandemic Towards A Greener World 

By Vikrant Sharma, 

Founder-Editor, The Global Telescope 


The one issue that has cut across national, continental and ideological lines over the last decade has been the environment. There are people who believe humans and their activities do not have any real impact on the environment, and there are those who believe the world is going to end in a few years’ time at the pace we are on right now. Most people believe something in between.

Many developed countries are seeing the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to radically shift towards a greener path. As economies slowly and cautiously reopen across the world, we see many governments trying to make an effort to use this disruption to make the economic activity greener and more sustainable.

How did we get here, you ask? Let’s rewind a bit for a traditional Vikrant history lesson (I will keep it small, I promise). The first ‘Green Parties’ emerged in Europe in late 1970’s. One of the first successful Green Party (the Greens) was formed in 1979 in West Germany. It was a collection of about 250 environmental groups coming together in a joint effort. They gained a few seats in the elections held in 1979 and early . The European Green Party, known as European Greens, formed in 2004 when ‘green’ national parties came forward to form a bloc in the European Parliament. They are active today in European politics.

Apart from a growing political force, the sustainable development moment has led to astonishing multilateral successes like the Rio Summit and the Paris Climate Deal. The Green Theory has even become an academic field in political science and international relations, and continues to grow in power and influence in the global arena.

Statistics show that 91% of European citizens believe that climate change is a serious problem in the EU, and 83% feel that European legislation is vital to protect the environment. The EU pushed out its European Green Deal at the end of 2019 that aims to make its economy carbon-neutral by 2050.  

The movement has clearly caught on with the larger public in developed countries, with activists like Greta Thunberg gaining a cult following. Some still doubt the agenda of the movement and point to practical fallacies in its plans. But to still say that the movement, and the accompanying political force it brings with it, is insignificant would be foolish and ignorant. Want an example? The Green Party in Ireland is a major partner in the coalition government that has formed just this year, and their role in the government will surely push for greener policies.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Moving now to the present. The COVID-19 pandemic has struck, wreaking havoc on global economies. Shutdowns, lay-offs, as well as a sharp and sudden dip in demand has punctured the wheels of the global financial system, and almost every country in the world is dealing with this, rather hard, blow to the economy. What has been astonishing, at least to me, has been the lack of panic. It is a welcome surprise. In fact, many governments are planning to do something positive as the world reopens the economies- they are planning to make the world greener.

The European Governments in particular were working towards a sustainable future when the pandemic hit. Now they say that the road to economic recovery and move to a more sustainable future must go hand-in-hand. Germany has released measures to revive the economy, deciding to give some of the spotlight to environmental measures. It is estimated to be putting aside €42 billion for this purpose, to be used in the energy and automotive sector to promote renewable energy and encourage the use of electric cars and building the infrastructure for electric cars, among other measures.

France has given economic packages to AirFrance and certain carmakers, the biggest aid being given to Renault in the automobile sector, and has attached certain green strings along with it to promote a push in the green direction. French President Emmanuel Macron’s party has faced losses in the recent local elections in which the Green party in France has made gains and won seats. This points to a clear mandate from the people. In response to this, the French President has promised to expedite environmental measures and lead the country on a greener path. For this, he has pledged €15 billion in new funding.

Rishi Sunak, UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer (Finance Minister), recently announced plans for the economy in what was being called a mini budget. It contained a plan for spending about £3 billion on improving energy efficiency in the next year. This is supposed to help support 140,000 jobs in UK and reduce emissions permanently. However, it does fall much short of the measures France and Germany are taking.

In India, new environmental norms for industries and developmental projects have come under scrutiny and have drawn the ire of some activists. At the same time, India has inaugurated the largest solar energy farm in Asia in Rewa, and a fifth of India’s power generation capacity now comes through clean energy sources. Prime Minister Modi has championed solar energy domestically and internationally; India currently has 34.6 gigawatt solar energy with an aim to increase that to 100 gigawatt by 2022.

The picture is not, however, all rosy (environmental pun intended). In March, China approved the construction of more coal-powered power generation capacity, while the US has removed some environmental regulations as a response to the pandemic causing disruptions.

We are living in historic times. The deadliest pandemic in the last century has changed the world in ways from which it may never recover. As we hear about ‘the new normal’, we are also presented with an opportunity to create and shape this new normal. The onus to do so falls on the developed nations much more so than the developing ones, but the responsibility to protect the world is equal for all.

While nations decide what to do, we can all do our bit as individuals. Plastic consumption has increased sharply since the pandemic started. Let us all be mindful of our carbon footprint, and move the needle forward bit by bit.



I dedicate this post to the memory of a lovely German Shepherd named Tyson whom I had the luck and pleasure to meet. A fiercely independent, loyal, playful and energetic soul, he shall forever be remembered in our hearts. Be safe Ty, you handsome little pupper.


|| The force behind the blog, Vikrant Sharma is the Founder-Editor of The Global Telescope. A student of law, he is deeply passionate about history, political science, public international law, international relations, and diplomacy. ||


All views presented in the article belong solely to the writer. The editor does not support or condemn the views, and neither does The Global Telescope. The Global Telescope remains impartial and promotes every individual's right to freedom of speech and expression while not holding any responsibility for the views presented whatsoever.



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