Climate Crisis Needs Same Drastic Response As the Pandemic, Study Says

Climate monitoring should mirror the real-time data issued during the pandemic.

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Ahead of the COP26 conference which will take place in Glasgow later this year, researchers from The Centre for Climate Justice at Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland, in collaboration with the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance and academic partners in Africa have released a report recommending governments regularly review and report loss of life and damage caused by the impact of our climate crisis. They argue the approach should mirror the real-time data issued during the pandemic. Since this may help people recognize the urgency of the situation when it comes to the climate crisis—and get a true picture of the devastating impacts of global warming. 

An integrated approach to interlinked crises is required

The research consortium undertook a four-month project to review literature and compile case studies from African nations through an online survey and semi-structured interviews with third-sector organizations in eight different countries. They then compiled their report. 

The aim of the study was to highlight key challenges, opportunities, and recommendations for climate action and the implementation of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) during the COVID-19 pandemic and future crises of this nature.

The report highlighted the crucial need to integrate Covid-19 recovery with climate action. They emphasized that the pandemic and the climate emergency can not be addressed as a separate crisis. The report shows evidence that the pandemic has not just held back urgently needed action to halt and begin to reverse global warming, but that it has also contributed to worsening the existing vulnerabilities for many communities and countries on the front line of the climate crisis. 

Researchers also highlighted the finding that health restrictions placed on face-to-face interactions and gatherings had a devastating impact on the NDC development process and caused significant delays. And identified areas where governments in developing nations could do more. 

Industrialized nations need to step up

Researchers looked at developmental challenges across Africa, and how the pandemic has impacted the implementation of the contributions and climate actions agreed under the Paris Agreement in 2015. One key recommendation also involves industrialized nations committing higher levels of financial support and technology transfer to countries in the developing world. 

African nations are committed to meeting their obligations under the Paris Agreement. But many of their NDCs are dependent on support from industrialized countries. It is vital that funding is not stopped or curtailed by the pandemic in the world's wealthiest nations. Many correspondents in the study fear that funding will not be forthcoming as governments in developed nations prioritize local recovery in short-sighted ways. 

Participants in the study also underscored the need for a proactive approach rather than a reactive stance. With data and reporting helping governments to prepare and act quickly. And that high levels of effective co-operation between different stakeholders, nationally and internationally during the pandemic could be replicated in addressing the climate crisis. Political will often lag behind even when resources are available. So policy-makers must recognize the capacity to address the climate emergency and advocate for the allocation of resources. Civil society must hold governments to account. 

Interconnectivity offered by digital tools should be embraced even after the pandemic ends in order to further promote collective action on climate change. A holistic and global view is essential for developing nations to meet their sustainability goals. 

Setting a level of urgency

Many of those interviewed for this study noted that even though climate change is ultimately more deadly than the virus, it has failed to elicit the same level of urgency in governments and civil society. 

There is a danger that in tackling the pandemic and its aftermath, we will detract from the urgent efforts required to tackle our climate crisis. Governments and authorities should treat the climate emergency with the same drastic response as the pandemic and recognize the urgency of climate action as they make recovery plans. 

Reporting climate data in the same way as the data relating to the pandemic could help educate society, and make clear the need for a drastic response to policymakers and the general public. Communities can galvanize quickly in response to an emergency, as we have seen during the pandemic in many countries. Raising local awareness of climate change impacts could generate action to the climate crisis in a similar way. And ambitious climate change mitigation and adaptation measures should follow. 

This study will be used to inform discussions before the COP26 climate change conference in November. 

View Article Sources
  1. Mattar, D. Sennan D., et al. "The Impact of COVID-19 on the Implementation of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in Africa." The Centre for Climate Justice at Glasgow Caledonian University, 2021.