What was the impact of these sudden changes to the environment? In the past few weeks, we are witnessing various articles of well-known media outlets at home and around the world addressing this issue from different angles. But do they convey the real picture? While many experts are worried that the already scarce budget for protecting our environment would have go further down because of stimulus measures for the economy, support of the health system and protection of laid off workers, others are seeing the coronavirus as an opportunity for green transformation.
These and many other issues were the focus of the recent environmental charter meeting on "Myths vs Reality Check of the Coronavirus Impact on the Environment" organized by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Skopje Office and Eco-svest, the Center for Environmental Research and Information. Within the meeting the Deputy Minister of Environment and Physical Planning Jani Makraduli stressed that we have to enter into the new "normality" with more solidarity, where every day will be the day of Earth, emphasizing the need for a Macedonian version of the European Green Deal. Only through ambitious climate action, energy transition, biodiversity, circular economy, the Clean Air Plan, greening of the state budget and digitalization we can strengthen our strives as a country for environmental protection. Post-pandemic recovery can be green only if each one of us contributes to it: Friday - work from home; Wednesday - a day without cars; etc.
Francisca Wehinger, head of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung’s regional climate and energy project in MENA presented a number of reality checks regarding the impact of the coronavirus to the environment within her presentation. COVID-19 has had and continues to have an impact on the environment in the short, medium and long-run. As some of them are positive, due to the limited transport and reduced emissions, others can mislead our action and reverse back the modest progress in climate policies. However, with recovery measures that put emphasis on climate friendly options as retrofitting buildings with energy efficiency measures, replacing old heating systems, promoting renewables and expanding public transport, the corona recovery could be green.
The purpose of these regular meetings is to provide a structured discussion between representatives of institutions, civil society organizations, trade unions, as well as domestic and international experts on the topic, in order to inspect the situation and create recommendations that will be further used in creating public policies which will represent the views of progressive entities that are actively working to promote economic and social development in accordance with the needs for protecting our environment, not at the cost of it.