Policy in the Pandemic

Policy in the Pandemic

In the United States, organized protests are calling attention to a range of collective grievances, including structural racism, disproportionate police violence against Black Americans, and even COVID-19 pandemic-related actions. On Labor Day 2020, Kay Jowers reflects on how these issues tie into the movement for environmental justice.

This should have been a critical year for global climate change negotiations, but the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed COP26, UNFCCC's annual summit, until November 2021. Jackson Ewing writes about how the COVID gap year is affecting climate diplomacy and why the next 15 months are especially important for the path ahead.

Countries around the world are pledging stimulus funding to support infrastructure construction as a way to aid economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic. Elizabeth Losos describes how a proposed community of learners could help direct that funding to sustainable infrastructure projects that "build back better."

The Federal Highway Administration has allowed food trucks to operate at interstate rest stops during the COVID-19 pandemic to support commercial truck drivers. Kate Konschnik explores how that could pave the way for electric vehicle infrastructure along federal highways.

Congress is debating another round of economic stimulus to provide a measure of emergency relief from shutdowns induced by the COVID-19 pandemic, but more help will likely be needed down the road for a full recovery. A proposed national green bank could put people back to work while building a sustainable future by creating jobs in clean energy infrastructure, clean transportation, and energy efficiency, writes Jennifer Weiss.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted momentum for government action to address plastic pollution. The authors of a global review of government responses over the last 20 years have observed complex impacts from the pandemic on international and national efforts. However, it seems local governments have pushed the pause button, particularly in the case of single-use plastics in the United States.

As Americans were put under stay-at-home orders and told to social distance this spring, many turned to parks for their mental and physical health. With travel and vacation limited in the coming months, they are increasingly looking to nearby parks to fill their recreational needs.

China’s economic rebound from COVID-19 disruptions is in full swing. As with reactions to the 2008 global financial crisis and the domestic slowdown of 2015, the country appears poised for an economic rebound that puts emissions on a higher overall trajectory than would have resulted from having no slowdown at all, writes Jackson Ewing.

Through a collaboration with Raftelis Financial Consulting, the Nicholas Institute’s Water Policy Program has been quantifying how COVID lockdowns have affected water use in several cities around the United States. Preliminary data indicate that the big effect of COVID may actually be in water bills, potentially affecting utilities' ability to pay their debts.

As the impact of COVID-19 grows in the United States, the lack of vaccines or effective treatment, coupled with anticipated subsequent outbreaks, has made it necessary to adopt unprecedented policy interventions across many aspects of daily life. Now many people are facing financial challenges resulting from these interventions and are struggling to pay housing and utility costs.