from Energy Security and Climate Change Program, Renewing America, and Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies

The Fight for Climate After COVID-19

COVID-19 exposed the world’s failure to prepare for the worst—can we learn to build back better?

Foreign policy analyses written by CFR fellows and published by the trade presses, academic presses, or the Council on Foreign Relations Press.

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Energy and Climate Security

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Public Health Threats and Pandemics

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit our world on a scale beyond living memory, taking millions of lives and leading to a lockdown of communities worldwide. A pandemic, much like climate change, acts as a threat multiplier, increasing vulnerability to harm, economic impoverishment, and the breakdown of social systems. Even more concerning, communities severely impacted by the coronavirus still remain vulnerable to other types of hazards, such as those brought by accelerating climate change. The catastrophic risks of pandemics and climate change carry deep uncertainty as to when they will occur, how they will unfold, and how much damage they will do. The most important question is how we can face these risks to minimize them most.

The Fight for Climate After COVID-19 draws on the troubled and uneven COVID-19 experience to illustrate the critical need to ramp up resilience rapidly and effectively on a global scale. After years of working alongside public health and resilience experts crafting policy to build both pandemic and climate change preparedness, Alice C. Hill exposes parallels between the underutilized measures that governments should have taken to contain the spread of COVID-19—such as early action, cross-border planning, and bolstering emergency preparation—and the steps leaders can take now to mitigate the impacts of climate change. Through practical analyses of current policy and thoughtful guidance for successful climate adaptation, The Fight for Climate After COVID-19 reveals that, just as our society has transformed itself to meet the challenge of coronavirus, so too will we need to adapt our thinking and our policies to combat the ever-increasing threat of climate change.

Unapologetic and clear-eyed, The Fight for Climate After COVID-19 helps us understand why the time has come to prepare for the world as it will be, rather than as it once was.

More on:

Climate Change


Energy and Climate Security

Energy and Climate Policy

Public Health Threats and Pandemics

Reviews and Endorsements

Alice Hill's new book reads like an informal briefing in the White House situation room on how to handle the climate crisis: Hill knows all the players, all the science, and all the politics. This is an excellent guidebook for any policymaker or citizen of planet Earth who wants to turn this crisis into opportunity and help build a better world.

Jeff Goodell, author of The Water Will Come

Even if the world does all it can to reduce emissions, the need for much greater resilience in response to the impacts of climate change grows more urgent every day. In this timely and important book, Alice Hill has written a straightforward, readable guide to help governments, businesses, and communities take action.

Todd Stern, former U.S. special envoy for climate change

Alice Hill offers a new path in a debate currently dominated by false choices. We must mitigate and adapt to address climate change. Blending personal stories with policy discussions, she offers insights and ideas that are forward-looking, creative, and practical. Anyone interested in the future of our climate, our cities, and our country should read this book.

Francis X. Suarez, mayor of Miami

The Fight for Climate After COVID-19 offers a deeply researched glimpse of future disasters and a pragmatic assessment of how to prepare for them.

Sheldon Whitehouse, U.S. senator from Rhode Island

It is easy to say that the time to act on climate is now. What Alice Hill has done in this thoughtful and informed volume is clearly assess where we can best make decisions to help our governments, our businesses, and our most vulnerable populations adapt to a warmer and higher risk planet.

Sylvia M. Burwell, president of American University and former secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

As Alice Hill explains, there is no shortage of actions that governments, communities, and individuals can take to reduce climate risk. The Fight for Climate After COVID-19 is a must-read for citizens and policymakers interested in building a future resilient to the next disaster.

Carlos Curbelo, former U.S. representative from Florida

This visionary page-turner offers a policy roadmap for nations and communities to save lives and improve well-being by adapting to our climate change future, even as we work to control it.

Linda Fried, dean of the Mailman School of Public Health and senior vice president, Columbia University Medical Center

In The Fight for Climate After COVID-19, Alice Hill builds the case for climate adaptation in a clear and engaging way, including useful parallels and lessons from the coronavirus pandemic. This insightful book provides a compelling global look at the climate crisis for decision-makers at all levels.

Patricia Fuller, ambassador for climate change, Canada

Alice Hill brings a long lens of scholarly and federal leadership experience to encompass the full landscape of our concurrent disasters, COVID-19 and climate change, and the cascading smaller disasters that have accelerated in frequency and severity over the last several years. The Fight for Climate After COVID-19 distills her incredible experience and knowledge into insights that shine a light on the way forward to assure the health and welfare of humankind in the context of an ailing global system.

Lynn R. Goldman, dean of George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health

While we race to cut emissions to stabilize our climate, we must also prepare for the climate impacts we can’t avoid. This book is a must-read for policymakers, businesses, and community leaders looking to secure a prosperous future in a changing climate.

Fred Krupp, president, Environmental Defense Fund

While we must do everything in our power to reduce greenhouse gas accumulation, Alice Hill reminds us that there is no vaccine for the disastrous impacts of climate change. Her book is an invaluable guide to how governments and societies can and must adapt to our rapidly changing climate.

David Michaels, former assistant secretary of labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration

Alice Hill provides a fascinating perspective from the front lines of societal and governmental responses to two huge crises—climate change and a global pandemic. The parallels she offers in this book are highly practical lessons which we should all take to heart.

Andrew Rosenberg, director of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Center for Science and Democracy

This essential volume illustrates the urgency of the present and the importance of climate education to build a new and better future. Climate crisis requires action on all fronts; it’s time we should be able to enjoy the benefits of nature, not just its threats.

Izabella Teixeira, former environment minister of Brazil

Formidable analysis



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