The Blue Green Blog

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The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting restrictions imposed to fight the spread of the disease have provided some short-term positive impacts on Europe’s environment. These include temporary improvements in air quality, lower greenhouse gas emissions and lower levels of noise pollution.

However, there have been negative consequences such as increased use of single-use plastics, and that ways out of the pandemic should focus on reshaping our unsustainable production and consumption systems to achieve long-term environmental benefits.

Key findings:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic further highlights the interrelations between our natural and societal systems: societal resilience depends on a resilient environmental support system.
  • Biodiversity loss and intensive food systems make zoonotic diseases more likely.
  • Often related to social inequalities, environmental factors such as air quality appear to influence COVID-19 outcomes.
  • Increased reliance on single-use plastics and low oil prices resulting from lockdowns have negative consequences.
  • Lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic may have some direct, short-term, positive impacts on our environment, especially in terms of emissions and air quality, although these are likely to be temporary.