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Travel & COVID - One Year Later - Part 2

Welcome to Part II of our blog series, A Year in Retrospect, as we look back on the changes to the world in the year after the pandemic began. Part II focuses on how the environment began to change after the entire world came to a standstill when quarantines were first implemented.

The world coming to a standstill last March has provided a short respite for the environment. This time last spring, we saw many strange, beautiful gatherings of wildlife to fill the empty spaces quickly left behind by usual crowds. A herd of Great Orme Kashmiri roamed the quiet streets of Llandudno, Wales; a sea of pink enveloped Mumbai’s ponds as hundreds of thousands of flamingos migrated to India’s wetland metropolitan region (Carlisle, 2020).

As lockdowns were implemented, less travel also meant less carbon emissions and pollution. According to a January report, greenhouse gas emissions in the United States fell almost 10 percent in 2020, pushing the total emissions below 1990 levels for the first time in decades (Foderaro, 2021). Global carbon dioxide emissions fell by almost 7 percent, which is historically the largest single percentage reduction in the past century (Foderaro, 2021).

However, this level is the amount cautioned by the United Nations Environment Program that would be required every year for the next decade in order to keep global temperatures below degrees Celsius as outlined in the Paris Agreement. If such a drastic lifestyle shift was needed to hit this recommended level, the pandemic has shown that there needs to be a rethinking of global systems in order to avert a greater climate crisis in the next few decades.

Carlisle, Madeleine. 2020. “Over 100,000 Flamingos Reportedly Descend on Mumbai Amid

India's Strict Coronavirus Lockdown.” TIME, May 2, 2020.

Foderaro, Lisa. 2021. “For Planet Earth, No Tourism Is a Curse and a Blessing.” New York

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