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Global Trilemma: COVID-19, Climate Change and the Economic Crisis.

Kenny Kal
5 min readMay 29, 2020


Who’s actually winning the climate fight in 2020?

Year 2020 was ululated as a beginning of the new era, with projected global economic growth at marginal 2.5% according to the World Bank. On the other-hand, climate activists the inspiring likes of Greta Thunberg and her legion of ardent climate supporters were taking a full-throttle fight against the ‘business as usual’ growth economics to save the global environment. From the onset in 2020, the projected global growth under the auspices of ‘business as usual’ was on a challenging path by climate activists across borders on a mission to save the World from the apocalypse of climate change.


iMage by CDC

The novel corona-virus-19 (COVID-19) the disease that causes severe -acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) debuted 2020 with little or mild concerns. As of January 22nd, 2020 the world only recorded 580 cases with 17 deaths (worldometers). Echoes from global leadership not treating it with gloves it deserved, late until the numbers of cases and deaths started soaring with Italy as a grotesque use-case. Fast forward to May 24th, 2020, the number of recorded corona-virus cases has reached 5, 494, 455 cases globally, with over 343, 608 deaths (worldometers). The cutting-edge technology and broadband is currently preventing the worst-case scenario for corona-virus spread through social distancing measures and stay-home curfews ordered by the governments. In a nutshell, the World is still in quarantine and countries in lock-down.

iMAGE by Edwin Hooper

The undeniable truth about the corona-virus is that, it is deadly and currently with no medicinal concoctions to curb it. Hence, the thousand deaths recorded and with no sign of the vaccine, the projection for fatalities could hit a million deaths with the ongoing spread rate. Here is da thing, the epicenter for the Corona-virus is in fact the epicenter of the current top emitter of greenhouse gases, ni hao China.

While the environmental footprint stats seem to have reduced immensely during the first quarter of 2020 due to government lock-downs and home quarantine measures which has disrupted international trade, tourism, with the beleaguered aviation industry which contributes to more than 2% of the global greenhouse gas emissions going through unprecedented times. Good riddance environmentalists would prost! Few moons ago, China the top emitter of the global greenhouse gases, its emissions intensity had lowered by 25% related to in-bound and out-bound flights, yes 25% lower. Communist leadership style seems to have worked the magic in China to curb the spread of the Corona-virus , and today China is currently nursing only 84 cases of the corona-virus planking the curve from 58,016 cases in February. Holy guacamole!

Worldometer 2020 China Corona stats

Where is Greta Thunberg and her fight on climate change nowadays?

Greta Thunberg as any global citizen is currently taking stay home measures and so is her campaign on climate change which has also suffered the heat from the corona-virus. As an ardent follower of Greta Thunberg on social media, signs of her fight for climate action in still active online but obviously overshadowed by the current corona crisis. Social media today is a cyber landfill of many things good, bad, fake news, Donald Trump, memes and tik-toks, it is really hard to win campaigns via social media and so is Greta Thunberg campaign for climate action. Posting on facebook her recent week 92nd #schoolstrike4climate campaign for climate action and encouraging her followers to #flattenthecurve and #stayathome to fight the corona-virus.

Image from Facebook

The curtain for climate action seems to be closing, as everyone is preoccupied to surviving the fatal tides of the corona-virus and live another day. However, on the flip side the corona virus globally has had a somewhat cosmetic impact on climate emissions, especially with immediate systems changes in key economic sectors, which has rendered some null and bankrupt and other key sectors bankrolling on government intensive care unit due to the corona-virus. As of April 9th , carbon brief trumpeting that corona-virus set to cause largest ever annual fall in CO2 emissions.

The pandemic could cause emissions cuts this year in the region of 2,000m tonnes of CO2 (MtCO2). -Carbon Brief, 2020.

The severe impact of corona-virus has reduced the emissions trajectories but will not help us reach the Paris Agreement target, ‘keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 °C’. For now its too early to call the overall impact of corona-virus on climate change and if any, just cosmetic changes, hopefully some some current practices to reduce over-use and consumption of public goods and resources will thrive on post corona-virus.

The current global trilemma concerning corona-virus, climate change and the economic crisis seems to be ‘three’ sides of the same coin, alas! As the first law of ecology posits, ‘everything is connected to everything else.’ Earlier this year before the Corona-virus hit the markets, global growth was projected to be at 2.5% for 2020, now downgraded to -1% global growth due to the impacts of Corona-virus, recession forthcoming. With over almost half a million fatalities globally due to corona-virus, government expenditure to plank the curve is having an overwhelming fatigue to save human life and businesses , how long can it last? China, epicenter of the corona-virus fresh from a corona-virus ‘victory lap’ is turning on full-throttle the coal-fired energy mix with gizmodo report highlighting ‘China’s air pollution is now worse than pre-corona-virus levels’. China again the epicenter of the corona-virus is still the epicenter of the global greenhouse gases , adios fresh air.

With the beleaguered American global leadership, China’s resurgence from the corona-virus, the projected global recession with magnitude 5 calamity, climate change and the corona-virus, it is hard to declare the outright winner here. However, economically China has the edge and final say on the trajectory for accounting for greenhouse gases, that causes climate change. Also, suffice to say, the crippling effects of the corona-virus has impacted almost Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Times Magazine Person of the Year , 2019 Greta Thunberg climate crisis campaign.

No truce…

No ceasefire…

Stay home and stay safe….



Kenny Kal

Wannabe writer, wannabe best-seller. Low carbon preacher & people and planet first. Openminded to life and criticism.