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How the coronavirus affected climate change – for better and for worse

Global warming has become a forgotten crisis during the coronavirus pandemic. But a year that set worrying climate records also shows how we can change the world for the better


October 14, 2020

By Adam Vaughan

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – SEPTEMBER 9: Smoky skies from the forest fires in Northern California casts a reddish color in San Francisco, California on Wednesday, September 9, 2020.

Ray Chavez / MediaNews Group / The M.

The orange sky looked more like a smoking hell landscape from the movie Blade Runner 2049, but this was California 2020. The images of the huge forest fires there and in Australia at the beginning of the year are perhaps as symbolic of 2020 as the queues of people wearing face masks .

Climate change hasn't stopped because of a global pandemic. However, our turbocharged global warming has become an almost forgotten crisis. "Climate change has taken a back seat," says climate researcher Corinne Le Quéré from the University of East Anglia in Great Britain, who advises the British and French governments.

Meanwhile, this year the world has seen a plethora of uncomfortable or near-record-breaking records of actions related to climate change, from global temperatures to the loss of Arctic sea ice, with increasingly clear consequences for global health, prosperity, and happiness .

"The Covid crisis is believed to be a short-term public health crisis and an economic crisis for a few years," says Petteri Taalas of the World Meteorological Organization. "But it is very well understood that the extent of the crisis we are faced with if we fail to protect the climate would be something completely different."

Coronavirus is far from over. But it is time to consider what the world should look like 10, 20 and 30 years later. What happened to the climate crisis while the world's attention was diverted? How has the pandemic changed the game and what can …