The negative side of economic growth

economische groei redactie 23-3-2020

The last few months the corona crisis has taken its toll on the global economy. From all corners of the world negative messages enter on how each country faces this crisis. For example, many economists think there will be a recession and Christine Lagarde, president of the ECB, came with the message that she fears the economy of the eurozone will endure a 5 per cent loss. However, the crisis also shows us another side of the economic growth that is now lacking.

Now that the whole economy has been shut down, satellite images a of clean air with little pollution everywhere appear. This is due to the huge decrease of emissions that are normally produced. But now that the production has decreased due to all the measures the world takes to combat the coronavirus, the amount of pollution has decreased. For example because of the empty factories and the stationary air traffic.

Of course, this is not only the case in the Netherlands where we already see a decrease of 12 per cent in nitrogen emissions and a 20 per cent decrease in particulate emissions, but also in the rest of the world. Especially countries like China and Italy that are hit the most by the virus see an impressive change in their satellite images.

According to BBC, we are approaching an emissions level that has not been that low since the last economic crisis. After the oil crisis of 1973, similar satellite images arose. However, in both situations the new pollution that came when the economy was running again accounted for all the lack of pollution in times of crisis. Chances are good that the same will happen after this crisis.

When you look at the huge decrease of emissions when an economy is down, you start to wonder about things. When I saw these images, I started thinking about the negative aspects of economic growth. It made me think of the consideration between economic growth on one side and the condition of our planet on the other. Is it sensible to have more economic growth year upon year when it is that harmful for the planet? Is the climate crisis the most important crisis that needs to be dealt with after we have dealt with the corona crisis,?

By: Jesse Derks