Not All Evil Comes to Harm: Could the Pandemic Crisis Be an Opportunity for a Sustainable Reboot?

The Covid-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented health and economic crisis, holding at the same time profound lessons that can help us set a new global equilibrium if we make sustainability core to our planning for the reboot.

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It may appear absurd to associate the concept of “opportunity” to that of the pandemic, but the virus outbreak seems to have created the political and social conditions to boost the transformative change towards sustainable development and climate objectives that we need.

An energy transition towards sustainable renewable energy, including also modern bioenergy, is needed and hopefully the lessons learned from the pandemic will allow a more sustainable and decisive reboot.

In recent years, the scientific call upon governments to do extra efforts to make a change has been loud and clear. According to the latest IPCC Report on Climate Change and Land, global temperatures have been rising significantly, especially during the last two decades, and it is time to act urgently to avoid increasing the global temperature beyond 2˚C, which could mean a no return point. Despite this very clear alert from one of the highest international panels of scientists on climate change, the international community has not made all necessary efforts to change radically the current trend. Our current energy mix, produced mostly from fossil fuels, plays a major role in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. An energy transition towards sustainable renewable energy, including also modern bioenergy, is needed and hopefully the lessons learned from the pandemic will allow a more sustainable and decisive reboot.

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The energy sector has been strongly affected by the Covid-19 crisis, but the supportive government policies all over the world could represent an opportunity and a new reboot for the sector. Renewable heat and transport biofuels are strongly suffering due to the drop in energy demand and low oil and gas prices. Lower biofuels demand due to global lockdown measures has pushed producers to divert a share of ethanol production to hand sanitizers during the pandemic, however this market is far smaller than that of transport fuels and therefore these sectors will require a quicker and higher level of attention by policymakers.

During pandemic crisis, countries have realized the critical importance of energy and food security. This would force countries to make themselves less vulnerable, leading to shorter supply chains and higher self-sufficiency in food and energy, but without forgetting that fighting global pandemics and global climate change may only be possible with global cooperation.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of Impakter.comFeatured Photo Credit: FAO / Giulio Napolitano

About the Author /

Dr. Maria Michela Morese is Natural Resources Officer at FAO and Executive Secretary of the Global Bioenergy Partnership (GBEP), which is based at FAO Headquarters in Rome, Italy, since 2006. She is also Project Coordinator of projects related to GBEP and to the implementation of its tools. Previously she worked for five years at the Italian Ministry for the Environment Land and Sea, where she was Assistant to the Director General in the D.G. International Relations Office and Italian focal point, as well as negotiator in various international environmental processes. Michela’s earlier assignments included acting as the Executive Assistant to the Italian Sous-Sherpa of the G8 at the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs during the 2001 G8 Italian Presidency. She also gained experience working at WFP and IFAD focusing on human rights, food aid, sustainable development, disaster mitigation and security awareness. Michela holds a degree in Political Science, International Relations, a post graduate certificate in “International protection of fundamental human rights” from “La Sapienza” University in Rome, a Master in “Environmental Governance” from “La Tuscia” University in Viterbo and a PhD in Forest Ecology at “La Tuscia” University in Viterbo. Michela speaks Italian, English, French and Spanish.

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