COVID-19 has put the size of the climate challenge into perspective. As businesses closed, factories shut, planes were grounded and cars gathered dust in garages, global carbon emissions fell by 7 per cent: about the same fall we need to achieve each year for ten years if we are to avoid a 1.5°C increase in global temperatures, according to analysis by Andrew Charlton. Given it took a global economic shutdown to achieve this in 2020, are we up to the task?
Combating climate change will require one thing in particular, and a lot of it: investment. The Economist estimates that the annual production of electric vehicles will need to increase ten-fold if we are to achieve net zero emissions by 2030. The number of charging stations will need to increase thirty-one-fold. Up to 2 per cent of America may need to be covered in solar panels and wind farms, according to one estimate. Mining companies will need to expand their production of the minerals that go into these technologies by more than 500 per cent.