Since the emergence of the coronavirus, Climate action has been relegated to the back because most countries have mobilized almost all their resources towards the fight against this pandemic. Even international organizations that deal with environmental matters like the UNDP have had to postpone their plans as a result of the pandemic. The fight has been left with the “keyboard warriors” to articulate climate change matters over the internet.
In the wake of Coronavirus, we must come up with recovery approaches that facilitate economic growth and create jobs, while building worldwide resilience against climate change.
The Coronavirus pandemic has given birth to one of the greatest crises of this century, already resulting in loss of livelihoods and lives globally. It has highlighted how deeply vulnerable our economies and societies are.
Coronavirus is a big threat that underscores the need for constructing resilience not only as a knee jerk reaction to pandemics but also to other potential risks like ecosystem destruction and climate change. This is the time to come up with ideas that will assist us in ‘building back better’ following this pandemic. Let us build in a way that creates the jobs and economic opportunities we desperately need in addition to implementing measures that reduce the risk of such crises in the near future. All these should be carried out while keeping climate action in mind as Climate change is already a crisis that we are having to deal with.
How can we incorporate climate action in the fight against the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic?
The initial response to the Coronavirus pandemic by international finance institutions and governments has been to mobilize unprecedented funds and resources. Following these huge investments, budgets in most countries will be very tight in the coming few years if not a decade. So, it is vital that we make these massive investments count.
The immediate response from international financial institutions and governments to the Coronavirus pandemic has been focused on emergency mitigation measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 and protect vulnerable people that have been greatly affected by the pandemic, whether from the disease, itself or job and income losses as economies take a hit.
Most if not all of these mitigation measures do not take into account climate action. This may lead to potential calls to loosen environmental laws or bail-outs for carbon industries like the oil and gas industry in an effort to boost economic growth. But it will not be in order to boost growth by basically escaping from one health crisis (the Coronavirus pandemic) and jumping into another in the form of climate change.
These are truly desperate times and it would not take a lot of thought for some countries to relax some laws that pertain to climate change if it means that they would encourage some form of economic growth. For example, some emergency mitigation measures to combat Coronavirus and its effect on people are directly linked to a negative impact on the environment, including air pollution.
From the initial response by governments, climate action has not been emphasized enough as governments came up with plans that were solely directed to the fight against the pandemic sometimes even disregarding already laid down precedents on climate action.
The second round of responses to the Coronavirus is expected to mostly focus on reflating or stimulating the economy after it took a dive during the initial stages of the pandemic. These will most likely have the greatest effect on climate action, positive or negative. One such element will be the investment of millions of dollars in big, shovel-ready structures to boost demand. These massive investments could restore the unequal and high-carbon industries, or they could assist in fast-tracking the transition to a more resilient, low-carbon, and inclusive economies. The type of infrastructure investment picked will be critical.
There’s evidence from the 2008/09 economic stimulus packages that targeted green stimulus measures created more jobs and better economic growth than the alternatives.
In 2009, the United States enacted the American Recovery & Investment Act that became the largest clean energy recovery plan in the United States history, offering more than 90 billion dollars in clean-energy tax incentives and investments, leveraging approximately 150 billion dollars in public and private capital, and supporting more than 900,000 jobs in the clean-energy sector from 2009-2015.
These investments jump-started a great scale-up of the solar and wind industries in the United States, which are now toe to toe in competition with the fossil fuel industry.
This is the time for comprehensive, transformative climate action. Major economies should take the lead. They have the solutions and tools available to effect the change needed. Such changes can and will benefit economies and communities in the international response to the Coronavirus pandemic and beyond. Climate action and people should be at the center of these actions, in a way that delivers a more inclusive and resilient world.
JimMark (author) from United Kingdom on September 26, 2020:
Sharlee on September 26, 2020:
Well done. Enjoyed the read very interesting subject.