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Companies must commit to carbon credit schemes

The Covid-19 outbreak was detected by doctors in Wuhan, China, around December 2019, although the first case may have begun in Hubei Province on November 17, 2019. The disease has spread to touch nearly all corners of the globe with countries recording a rise in infections and deaths.

World Health Organisation (WHO) eventually declared the virus a global health emergency, the sixth in world history, and rated Covid-19 a global risk of spread and impact as "very high", the most serious designation that the organisation gives in its ranking.

Covid-19 sent the global economy toward the edge of recession. Countries were forced to put in measures aimed at curbing the disease. These, among others, included total/partial lockdown of cities, isolation of nations, suspensions of international travel which reduced about 70 percent of international flights, banning of travel, closing learning institutions, shutting down of industries/factories, or reducing their operations.

The shutdown in industries globally, including in the USA, China, Italy, and Japan, among others led to a drop in consumption as a result of the reduction in operations. For instance, coal consumption in power plants reduced to around 36% globally. This resulted in a decline in the emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, these being greenhouse gases that contribute to the increased effects of climate change.

Globally, China is the leading emitter of carbon dioxide at 30 per cent followed by the USA at 15 per cent and Europe at 9 per cent. The biggest 20 companies in the world like Chevron, BP, and Shell, among others, contribute 35 per cent of all energy-related carbon dioxide emissions. This is equivalent to 480 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide. The slowed or halted physical operations impacted production.

Globally aviation industry contributes 2.4 per cent of the total carbon dioxide emissions. In the US, they contribute about 12 per cent of total emissions which is equivalent to 3 per cent of the total carbon dioxide emissions. Domestic flights in China, the USA, and the EU contribute 55 per cent of total emissions.

Covid-19 drastically reduced all this, which in turn resulted in a greater decrease in the total greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.

These reductions in carbon dioxide were short-lived. Once things came back to normal, countries lifted a number of sanctions. This meant industries and factories increasing production efforts to cover for the losses made and periods they had reduced operations. This will double the greenhouse gases back into the atmosphere and ravage more on the earth's flora and fauna.

There is a need then for countries to come up with a policy that will see these companies commit more to carbon credit schemes for their emissions. This will greatly offset the gases from the atmosphere.

Dr Humphrey Agevi, Climate Change Specialist

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