Economy and Environment During COVID-19 Slowdown; Influences on Climate Politics in the Trump Administration

Bigelow, Rachel, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Lakshmi, Venkataraman, EN-Eng Sys and Environment, University of Virginia
Norton, Peter, Engineering and Society, University of Virginia

Infectious diseases and environmental hazards transcend national borders. Interest groups
compete to influence public policy responses to these threats. Governments have the
responsibility of providing citizens with what they cannot effectively provide for themselves.
Complexities arise when governments are tasked with balancing competing interests amid
unprecedented global crises.
National responses to the COVID-19 pandemic affected domestic production and air
quality. Many countries instituted lockdowns and other restrictions, at a cost to economic
growth. Responses in South Korea, China, Japan, New Zealand, and Australia were examined.
GDP growth for each country was modeled in time series and spectral analyses to compare
actual 2020 economic performance against estimated performance had no pandemic occurred.
NASA satellite imaging indicated air quality improvements in all countries; traffic was a
significant predictor of NO2 levels. In all countries, national pandemic responses had major
economic and environmental effects. The results may be useful in future emergency response
In the United States, business interests and environmental advocacies competed to
influence climate politics during the Trump administration. Business interests, predominantly
from the energy sector, gained greater influence in Congress and in the White House. The
Heritage Foundation and other conservative thinktanks influenced cabinet appointments. As the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) relaxed enforcement, advocacies used litigation to
enforce environmental standards and collaborated to promote responsible climate policy.
Environmental, health, and social justice advocacies worked together to resist the threats they
perceived from the Trump administration.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
COVID-19, Economy, Environment, Donald Trump

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Systems Engineering
Technical Advisor: Venkataraman Lakshmi
STS Advisor: Peter Norton
Technical Team Members: Reese Bowling, Shivani Das, Zach Dedas,
Eric Jess

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