Understanding the Impact of COVID-19 on Economy and Environment in the Asia-Pacific RegionResearch Paper
The COVID-19 pandemic has provoked longstanding and competing interests of the economy and environment. In January 2020, countries across the globe began implementing various levels of safety measures to slow the spread of the virus. Safety measures have run the gamut of restrictions: physical distancing guidelines, proper handwashing practices, and the use of face masks are on the lower end of the restriction spectrum, while travel restrictions, business closures, and country-wide lockdowns are instances of more stringent measures. Policy responses have drastically differed among governments across the globe, but the economic strife has plagued countries regardless of their COVID-19 response plan. Lockdowns in the first half of 2020 impeded economic activity, leading to a reduction in industrial activity and hence emissions. During this time period, observations from publicly available satellite sensors have shown that concentrations of various atmospheric pollutants, nitrogen dioxide especially, have decreased. The Asia-Pacific region was no exception, with China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand all experiencing slowdown in growth and large reductions in various economic sectors. Using these five Asia-Pacific countries, we will analyze how government policy, lockdowns, and travel restrictions implemented during the COVID-19 outbreak have slowed economic growth in the transportation, manufacturing, and agriculture sectors, and in turn, impacted air quality and water quality. Conclusions and statistical significance of our analysis comparing coronavirus-related policies and their effect on economic growth and environmental health will help drive future decisions made by policymakers should another pandemic or similar global crisis arise.
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University of Virginia
May 20, 2021