Don’t let the blue skies fool you: in Brazil, the pandemic is bad news for climate and environment

Published in Climate Diplomacy

By Adriana Erthal Abdenur

As the novel coronavirus spreads throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, social media have been rife with reports touting some of the environmental and climate benefits of the pandemic. Lower levels of pollution due to falling industrial output and the ’comeback‘ of wildlife into urban areas are cited as evidence that the crisis may have an environmental silver lining, even if temporary.

However, the pandemic also has highly negative impacts in the region. While there is a decrease in the amount of street trash in urban areas (about 55% in the city of São Paulo), households are producing more garbage. There has also been a boost in the disposal of toxic materials such as hospital waste—according to some estimates, this is expected to increase anywhere between 10 to 20 times during the pandemic. Likewise, there is an uptick in the consumption of household electricity and gas, even as industrial consumption falls.

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