COVID-19 And The Environment

COVID-19 is a pandemic for the ages. It is one most of us have never experienced and every day I pray we will never experience again. Many have compared this pandemic to the Great Depression. For Quarter 1, 2020, Canada’s economy contracted at an annualized pace of 8.2%. [i] When the Canadian economy will rebound is up for debate. During this period, a hot topic that seems to have gone to the back burner – Covid-19 and the environment and our crusade against greenhouse gas emissions. That is understandable given what consumers and business are encountering, and the Federal Environment Minister recently acknowledged “plans to beef up Canada’s national climate action plan and ban some single-use plastics will likely be delayed because of COVID-19.”[ii] Does  this mean business should put their environmental efforts on hold? The answer is a resounding No.

Covid-19 and the environment

Though the environment may not be in the spotlight, it is still a top of mind subject matter. As a result of COVID-19, there has been some positive and negative consequences when it comes to the environment. For instance:

  • 8% drop in global greenhouse gas emissions in 2020, according to a reportfrom the International Energy Agency (IEA).[iii]
  • A cut in air pollution by as much as 15% in Canada’s five largest cities during the 2nd half of March.[iv]
  • Increase in food waste as Canadian milk farmers rid the system of surplus production as demand from foodservice sector plummets.

With respect to the consumer, this pandemic has made them that much more concerned about the environment. A recent study undertaken by consulting firm Kearney revealed:

  • 11% of consumers say they have shifted their purchases based upon environmental claims.
  • 83% of consumers say they considered the environment when making a purchase in April, 2020. This represents a 12% increase over 2019.
  • 78% of consumers feel business could be doing more to explain the environmental impacts of their products.[v]

We cannot allow this pandemic to make us blind to the challenges that we faced before this crisis began and will still exist after it is over, like eliminating food waste (i.e. – 11% of all the greenhouse gas emissions that come from the food system could be reduced if we stop wasting food.[vi]) and ending plastic pollution (i.e. – By 2025, there could be 1 ton of plastic for every 3 tons of fish in the ocean.[vii]) We all play a role in protecting our environment. We can make smarter choices or as the Green Party of Canada has alluded to: “we can use this experience as a template of how to move forward and not go back to our old ways of doing things.”[viii] In English terminology, climate lock downs? The choice is ours.



[i] Canada’s GDP Growth in April Plunged by a Record 11% from March,, May 2020

[ii] Single Use Plastic Ban Likely Delayed Due to Pandemic: Environment Minister,, May 2020

[iii] Global GHG Emissions Could Fall 8% in 2020 Amid Pandemic: IEA,, May 2020.

[iv] Cites Around the World Have Seen Air Pollution Plummet During COVID-19. Is this the Beginning of Toronto’s Green Revolution?, April 2020

[v] Consumers Still Care About Sustainability Amid Pandemic, Report Finds,  April 2020

[vi] Food Climate Change by Fighting Food Waste,

[vii] An Earth Law Solution to Ocean Plastic Pollution,, March 2018

[viii] Editorial, No, We Don’t Need Climate Lock Downs,, April 2020