The next climate summit has been postponed to November 2021- various countries are now delaying their climate plans. As trillions are being allocated for economic recovery it’s important to remember that the climate crisis has not gone away. The economic recovery is an opportunity to mainstream green policies and ensures we avoid future health crises.
COVID19 revealed global weaknesses
The Pandemic has killed more than a million and infected over 40 million. The virus has exposed systemic weaknesses of governance structures, and economic models.
COVID-19 has revealed how we are all dependent on each other. No nation could have fixed this pandemic alone. The disclosure of national data, donation of equipment are all crucial to lowering infection rates and saving lives.
While the world is battling a second wave of infections – there is a silver lining in the recovery process. The world can recover and build back better. It is a unique opportunity to reshuffle investments and to start investing in citizens. The fossil fuel industry is in turmoil, these risky investments expose the population to worsening climate impacts, and a chance for another pandemic.
Nature send us a message
After the outbreak of the Coronavirus, we know that peoples’ fates are inextricably linked to nature. When we radically alter the environment, we create conditions for pandemics to thrive.
The diversity of species, a healthy environment are essential to protect us from future pandemics. Logging, fracking, deforesting, mining, illegal trading of wild species all increase the risk of future catastrophes. While there isn’t one solution to the prevention of new pandemics- there is one obvious way to lower the risk: protecting nature. Wildlife, forests, and ecosystems have to be protected.
Science knows better
Our leaders need to listen to scientists. Leaders that followed the instructions of health experts managed to get rid of the virus. While the US and Brazil, who mocked their doctors are some of the worst COVID19 hotspots.
New leaders have also emerged during the pandemic. Mayors, state governors, doctors and CEOs have been showing continuous commitment to a net-zero transition. Many of them see the recovery process as an opportunity to build back better and create a more resilient economy.
Businesses are changing
In 2014 when the net-zero target was first floated, it seemed crazy and impossible, so leaders have dismissed it. Six years later this is the reality, companies, governments and people are shifting. We know that change is inevitable.
150 national climate investment plans worth well over $25 trillion are expected ahead of the COP26 in 2021. Leading investors such as Blackrock, L&G, Aviva acknowledge climate change and climate policy are material risks. The EU, UK and US Democrats are working on carbon border taxes.
Investing in green wins votes
Global voter polling revealed that those focusing on sustainable and resilient futures win votes.
Global polls in 2020 suggest that over 70% of people think climate change is potentially as serious as COVID-19. According to IPSOS-Mori, 4-in-5 think climate change poses a threat to health today. Nearly 60% say they would not vote for a party that doesn’t take climate seriously. Majority of Europeans don’t want to turn back to pre-pandemic levels of pollution.
Small Countries are Leading
Climate plans and climate diplomacy got delayed by developed countries. So leaders from the Global South once again took the lead on this issue. The Marshall Islands, Cuba, Andora, and Mongolia are some of the countries that have signalled an uninterrupted commitment to lowering emissions.
Their economic power might be small, however, each of these commitments weakens the hold of the fossil fuel industry on the global economy. Each one of these opens up net-zero investment opportunities.
COP26 is a critical moment
By the start of the 2021 UN climate conference, there will be a new US president, the next Chinese 5 Year Plan will be rolled out, the EU Green New Deal will be finalised, African Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting will be concluded. All these moments are defining for the next years of climate diplomacy.
At the COP26, we will have a very clear picture of how committed our leaders are. Wise nations will use their climate plans as a template for their economic recovery packages. This will result in more jobs, more stable businesses and clean air for the future.
The COP26 climate conference will not be perfect. But it will need to send a strong signal to politicians, investors, and people. The 100+ climate plans will represent trillions of dollars of investment opportunities. Corporations have been battling against strong climate diplomacy, now this conference must show that the world is able to adapt effective and ambitious climate commitments.
For the first time in history, the green economy is ready to be mainstreamed across all sectors. From energy to transport, agriculture to heavy industry- we have the answers, data, people on the streets. But politicians and banks must join this movement.
It’s not too late. Every tonne of saved emissions means human lives are saved.