On 3 April 2020, the Director-General of the WHO stated: “[COVID-19] is much more than a health crisis. We are all aware of the profound social and economic consequences of the pandemic (WHO, 2020)”. Such consequences are the result of counter-measures such as lockdowns, and world-wide reductions in production and consumption, amplified by cascading impacts through international supply chains. Using a global multi-regional macro-economic model, we capture direct and indirect spill-over effects in terms of social and economic losses, as well as environmental effects of the pandemic. Based on information as of May 2020, we show that global consumption losses amount to 3.8$tr, triggering significant job (147 million full-time equivalent) and income (2.1$tr) losses. Global atmospheric emissions are reduced by 2.5Gt of greenhouse gases, 0.6Mt of PM2.5, and 5.1Mt of SO2 and NOx. While Asia, Europe and the USA have been the most directly impacted regions, and transport and tourism the immediately hit sectors, the indirect effects transmitted along international supply chains are being felt across the entire world economy. These ripple effects highlight the intrinsic link between socio-economic and environmental dimensions, and emphasise the challenge of addressing unsustainable global patterns. How humanity reacts to this crisis will define the post-pandemic world.
This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Lenzen, M., Li, M., Malik, A., Pomponi, F., Sun, Y., Wiedmann, T., Faturay, F., Fry, J., Gallego, B., Geschke, A., Gómez-Paredes, J., Kanemoto, K., Kenway, S., Nansai, K., Prokopenko, M., Wakiyama, T., Wang, Y. & Yousefzadeh, M. 2020, 'Global socio-economic losses and environmental gains from the Coronavirus pandemic', PLoS ONE, 15(7), article no: e0235654. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0235654