Climate Crisis should be treated with same urge as the Pandemic
Despite climate change is more deadly than the COVID-19 pandemic, it has failed to elicit the same level of urgency among governments and civil society actors. However, it was suggested that climate change should receive the same kind of attention from decision-makers.
Effective coordination between government agencies, development organizations and civil society actors that emerged during the pandemic should be incorporated into climate action not only in case of acute disasters but chronic issues, as well. There is the capacity to address the climate crisis, but political will to allocate resources must be strongly advocated for.
Successfully, many countries have been educating their citizens on the COVID-19 virus and the public health measures required to reduce transmission rates. There’s a need to transplant these learning and awareness-raising mechanisms to climate action.
A pivotal year in climate negotiations was missed in 2020 with the postponement of COP26 (Schuster 2020) and the majority of the international community have still yet to update their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), with only 8 out of 192 parties to the Paris Agreement having submitted their second round of NDC commitments (UNFCCC 2021). The delay also means COP27, which was to be hosted in Africa in November 2021, will likely be postponed to 2022 (IISD 2021). The African
Group of Negotiators on Climate Change (AGN) is particularly concerned about the impact of the delay for climate action highlighting that the continent is highly vulnerable to climate change and called for COP27 to go ahead as planned to ensure there is urgent action on the climate emergency (IISD 2020).
Yet, worryingly, the inequitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations has raised concerns whether the upcoming COP 26 negotiations will have sufficient representation of the poorest and most vulnerable countries and communities, particularly Africa, as the wealthiest nations have access to 87% of vaccine supplies in contrast to only 0.2% available to low-income countries (Nazareth et al 2021). Covax, the international scheme aimed at ensuring equitable access to the vaccine, is reportedly short of 140 million doses, and despite the calls for waiving COVID-19 vaccine patents to allow greater distribution, the British Government has yet to take a firm position (Summers 2021).
Notably, the economic fallout of the pandemic is expected to present barriers to low- and middle-income countries accessing international funding to purse the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and climate action (Barbier and Burgess 2020). Ironically, representatives from some developing countries have suggested that the impacts of COVID-19 could have been reduced if investment in water and sanitation, as part of climate adaptation, had been prioritised sooner (NAP Global Network 2020).
2nd Photo by Andrew Merry / Getty Images