from The Internationalist and International Institutions and Global Governance Program

Can the Lessons of the Coronavirus Pandemic Be Applied to Climate Change?

The 110 freeway carries far less traffic than usual in Los Angeles, California, on March 23, 2020. Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Contrasting COVID-19 with climate change underscores how urgency often trumps importance in motivating political action.

April 6, 2020

The 110 freeway carries far less traffic than usual in Los Angeles, California, on March 23, 2020. Lucy Nicholson/Reuters
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In my weekly column for World Politics Review, I discuss the implications of COVID-19 for climate change and contrast political responses to the two crises.

As the world grapples with COVID-19, it cannot afford to ignore an even more serious global emergency that will persist long after the pandemic has passed: climate change. Last month, the United Nations issued a dire multiagency report warning that the world is “way off track” on its commitments to cut emissions under the Paris Agreement. Without dramatic and sustained emissions reductions, higher atmospheric and marine temperatures will bring more deadly heat waves, catastrophic storms, rising seas, food insecurity, health crises and mass displacement.

More on:

Public Health Threats and Pandemics

Coronavirus

Climate Change

Energy and Environment

Global Governance

Although emissions have dropped sharply since January with the coronavirus pandemic virtually shutting down entire economies and most air travel, they are sure to surge again as the world economy roars back to life whenever the pandemic ends. Antonio Guterres, the U.N. secretary-general, put it bluntly: “We will not fight climate change with a virus.” Indeed, the pandemic will make progress against global warming even more elusive.

Read the full World Politics Review article here.

More on:

Public Health Threats and Pandemics

Coronavirus

Climate Change

Energy and Environment

Global Governance

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