Put Climate at the Heart of COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plans

By Pablo Vieira Samper
WASHINGTON DC, Jun 29 2020 (IPS)

Cast your mind back. Six months ago—it seems like a
lifetime—the world’s attention was on Madrid. The United
Nations was meeting to take stock of international progress in
fighting climate change. Headlines were dominated by young people
pointing out—rightly—that governments were still not doing
enough. They demanded urgent and ambitious action to cut emissions
and help the most vulnerable.

Pablo Vieira Samper

Fast forward to today. A then-unheard-of disease has swept around
the world, with a death toll of almost half a million and climbing.
Whole societies have shut down. The world faces its deepest
recession in a century. And cities across the West have exploded in
protest against racial and economic injustice.

At first glance it is hard to imagine a bleaker outlook for the
climate action that our young people were demanding. The climate
crisis has certainly not abated. Globally, last month was the
hottest May ever recorded. The past decade was similarly the
hottest in recorded history. This year was supposed to be a
deadline for countries to produce more ambitious climate plans
(known as Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDCs). Instead,
governments are reeling in the face of twin economic and healthcare
crises. What chance is there for bold climate action?

But there is still cause for hope. As countries plan for
economic recovery, governments have a major opportunity to drive
investment in more efficient, more resilient and lower-emission
infrastructure and unleash win-win outcomes. The International
Energy Agency calculates that an ambitious recovery focused on
efficient and low-carbon technologies can make 2019 the definitive
peak in global emissions, while leaving the global economy 3.5
percent bigger in 2023 than it would be otherwise. If governments
seize this opportunity, we can build more sustainable development
models and address the climate crisis at the same time.

This is where the
NDC Partnership
is making a difference. We are a coalition of
more than 110 countries and around 70 international institutions
working together to drive climate action and sustainable
development through national climate plans or NDCs. In line with
our commitment to country-driven climate action, we consulted with
seventy of our member countries in the early stage of the COVID-19
pandemic to understand the challenges they face. Our
assessment
highlights cause for concern ranging from shrinking
climate budgets to growing national debts. Countries want to shape
their economic recovery in line with their national climate
priorities, but in many cases they lack the capacity to do so.

Led by our Co-Chairs, the governments of Costa Rica and the
Netherlands, the Partnership is unveiling a raft of green recovery
measures at a virtual green recovery forum today. In a show of
solidarity, dozens of our country and institutional members are
committing to place climate plans at the heart of economic
recovery.

As part of this commitment, the Partnership is unveiling its
deployment of economic
advisors
to at least thirty developing countries to support
governments in designing climate-friendly recoveries. This
initiative is backed by a group of leading experts from across our
membership so that countries can leverage the latest thinking in
smart recovery, from clean energy and transport systems to safer,
more resilient agriculture and water infrastructure. Countries and
institutions alike will learn from each other’s experiences.
Armed with this greater capacity and access to expertise, countries
have a real prospect of building back better.

This give me hope. But there is more. In the face of COVID-19 we
are reminded of some important facts that have been lost in much
recent political debate. It pays to heed expert scientific
advice—natural disasters cannot be wished away just because they
are politically unpalatable. Effective governments are vital to
responding to global crises. Resources can be mobilized at huge
scale when the need is clearly understood. And when societies are
mobilized, we can make big changes happen fast. Climate change is
as big a crisis as humanity has ever faced. But whenever you doubt
whether we can rise to that challenge, cast your mind back six
months. The global community is primed for a green recovery.

Pablo Vieira Samper, PhD is global director of
the NDC Partnership Support Unit. The Partnership is a global
coalition of 179
countries and institutions
working to achieve the Paris
Agreement goals.

Source: NDC Partnership

Source: NDC Partnership

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Put Climate at the Heart of COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plans

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Put Climate at the Heart of COVID-19 Economic Recovery
Plans