As countries begin to recover from the COVID-19 crisis, recovery plans could shape 21st century economies to be cleaner, greener, healthier, safer and more resilient.
The current crisis represents an opportunity for a deep, systemic transition to a more resilient economy that benefits both people and the planet. The UN Secretary General has proposed six climate-related measures that governments can take as they begin to rebuild their economies and societies:
- the transition to a "green" economy: investment should accelerate the transition to a less carbon-intensive economy for all aspects of our economy;
- greening jobs and sustainable and inclusive growth;
- a "green" economy: making societies and people more resilient through a transition that is fair for all and leaves no one behind;
- investing in sustainable solutions: subsidizing the production and consumption of fossil fuels must be stopped and the perpetrators of pollution must pay for their negative impact on the environment;
- combating all climatic risks;
- cooperation — no country can succeed alone.
To address the climate emergency, post-pandemic recovery plans must initiate long-term systemic shifts that will change the trajectory of atmospheric CO2 levels.
In recent years governments around the world have invested considerable time and effort in developing plans to create a safer and more sustainable future for their citizens. Adopting such plans now as part of recovery planning could help the world recover more effectively from the current crisis.
Climate change affects all countries on all continents. It destroys the economies of countries and affects the lives of people. Weather conditions are changing, sea levels are rising and weather patterns are becoming more severe.
While greenhouse gas emissions are projected to decline by about 6% in 2021 due to travel bans and economic slowdown as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, this improvement is only temporary. Climate change has not stopped. As the global economy begins to recover from the pandemic, emissions are expected to return to higher levels.
Saving lives and livelihoods requires urgent action to tackle both the pandemic and the climate emergency. The 2015 Paris Agreement aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping the global average temperature rise this century at well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The Agreement also seeks to strengthen the ability of countries to cope with the impacts of climate change through appropriate financial flows, a new technology framework and a capacity building framework.