By Peter Paul van de Wijs
AMSTERDAM, Netherlands, Apr 13 2020 (IPS)
In recent days we have seen the understandable decision reached
to postpone the UN climate change conference – COP26 – which
was due to take place this November. As the world reels from the
widespread impacts of the coronavirus crisis, it is the right
COVID-19 is a pressing global issue that is starting to strain
health systems, cut down economic output and undermine efforts to
address poverty and inequality. These are challenges that, in the
coming months, will need concerted and collaborative effort between
and within nations to overcome.
But what does this mean for one of the most enduring and
universal challenges we face – that of climate change? The
COP26 until 2021 does not mean that efforts by countries to
meet their climate change commitments have to be on hold. Far from
Fulfilling Paris Agreement promises
As with coronavirus, climate change is a significant cause of
reduced outcomes for health and wealth around the world. We know
that the consequences of climate change continue to escalate,
disproportionately impacting communities that have contributed the
least to the problem of carbon emissions, with devasting effects on
the environment and global biodiversity.
So, while the COP26 global gathering of opinion formers and
climate change experts won’t take place this autumn in Scotland,
there can be no delay or dialling back of ambition when it comes to
climate action. Indeed, if countries are to fulfill the promises
made in the
Paris Agreement we need levels of ambition to grow.
A green transition in the COVID-19
Even as countries strive to contain and mitigate the COVID-19
crisis, we cannot lose sight of this. That’s why climate action
needs to be kept in the mainstream of political discussions – and
even consider how the recovery phase of the pandemic, when it
comes, can be implemented in a way that supports a green
Peter Paul van de Wijs
The European Commission has been forthright already, with
Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans stating on 1 April
that, when it comes to addressing climate change, “we will not
slow down our work domestically or internationally”. That
position is welcome – and one we need the world’s other major
economies to echo.
Business input to the solution
Efforts by governments to tackle climate change need to include
greater engagement of the private sector. Businesses have a huge
role in helping reduce carbon emissions and contributing towards
solutions. That’s why sustainable business practices need to be
front and center of corporate efforts to realign the way they
operate, both now and in the aftermath of the pandemic.
Indeed, contributing to climate change mitigation makes sense to
companies from both environmental and economic standpoints.
sustainable investing has been on the rise for some time –
and the current crisis is demonstrating why ESG (environmental,
social and governance) factors are
increasingly important to major investors.
Business resilience, continuity planning, community engagement
and employee rights – these are all ESG risks to be managed.
Responsible companies, that are transparent about their practices
and take obligations to people and the planet seriously, stand to
Understanding impacts can drive improvement
GRI is the independent and multi-stakeholder organization that
provides the most widely used sustainability reporting framework,
Standards. And during this testing period, we are continuing to
help companies to disclose their impacts and support governments to
collaborate with the private sector in fulfilling national
climate change commitments.
This includes engaging business in the
Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), which articulate
the efforts by individual countries to cut emissions and adapt to
The NDCs are central to the implementation of the Paris
Agreement, with all new or updated NDCs requiring to be submitted
this year. While acknowledging the huge challenges many governments
face as a result of coronavirus, we cannot let this timetable
In a very short space of time, the impact of COVID-19 has sent
shockwaves around the world. When it comes to climate change, the
risks are longer-term, more diffused and harder to quantify.
Yet they remain real and more volatile than ever. Future
generations will look back on 2020 as a year when the global
community either stepped up or fell short. Let’s ensure this year
of crisis brings out the best in us and we do not let them
Source: FS – All – Ecology – News
Time to Raise the Ambition for Climate Action