Experts at the recent QGBC webinar discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic has achieved short-term gains globally

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, there has been a level of climate recovery, from pollution reduction in several countries to clearance in waterways. And while experts have called these short-term gains, it has prompted the world to re-think future climate action.

In a recent webinar hosted by Qatar Green Building Council (QGBC), a panel of experts – led by Hamoda Youssef, Head of Technical Affairs at QGBC – discussed the future of climate change after COVID-19. QGBC is a member of Qatar Foundation.

The panellists observed that the pandemic has effectively forced a behaviour change that could break current habits. Moving business operations, school and university classes, and events and meetings online – coupled with remote working – is an example of how, if the behaviour is sustained, the amount of carbon produced through transportation can be reduced.

QGBC webinar on climate change

Mohammad Asfour, Head of the World Green Building Council – MENA and Africa Regional Networks, however argued that more research is needed to make sure that this change is not simply a case of ‘shifting high carbon emissions from the office to our homes’.

He expressed his optimism that a certain level of change is possible in the future and argued for collaboration between the private sector, policymakers, academia, and civil society, as well as more investments in the field of green and circular economy.

Dr Chadi Aoun, Professor and Information Systems Program Director at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, pointed to lessons in empowerment, sustainability, and food security, lessons that can be learned from how the pandemic has shrunk supply chains.

Nations and regions could begin localising production, empowering small famers and small operators to start producing and making a livelihood, and even begin competing. Even households could begin looking at ways to produce in their own gardens.

The panel also discussed how the COVID-19 economic stimulus and recovery plans can be seized as an opportunity to drive a climate-conscious transition. Experts agreed that it was not necessarily politicians or governments driving the groundswell of opinion but also the youth, the young activists and businesses.

Harry Sealy, Environmental and Sustainability Manager and Founding Chair of IEMA Middle East, Jacobs Qatar, said that the challenge for governments now is to stimulate economic recovery without compromising environmental sustainability. He said that there may be an opportunity to offer incentives to companies that demonstrate they have a commitment to climate action.

Asfour agreed, adding that commitments made by big corporations to the World Green Building Council’s net-zero energy building policy have not always been from politicians but a responsibility the companies have taken on themselves.

Sealy concluded that the pandemic may have given us insight into how much we really need a change in mentality.

For more information on QGBC webinars, visit qatargbc.org