Corona Pandemic, Climate Action and COP 26

Corona Pandemic, Climate Action and COP 26


Dr Srikanta K. Panigrahi
Director General, IISD

The United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC), together with the UK Government, which is serving as the COP 26 Presidency right now, announced that it would be postponing the summit at Glasgow, which was scheduled at Madrid, Spain at COP 25 to take place, during November-December 2020, due to the Global Corona COVID-19 Pandemic. The exact date would be determined latter, following consultation with parties.

With 1.15C Rise Of global temperature, while we are going through the climate emergency like, alarming situation and trying to focus now, for more and more aggressive Climate Actions, unexpectedly all of us, again started experiencing an another serious threat, got added to our survival now - COVID 19 Pandemic.

Postponing the timing of this crucial UN Climate Summit i.e. COP 26 is no doubt, not only a big blow to our ongoing global climate action agenda, but also is set to adversely impact, our speed in the journey of our collective planning and joint future climate actions, those scheduled ahead, that could have rolled under Paris Agreement in near future. But since today COVID 19 has already impacted hugely, creating the unprecedented health crisis, the world really needs to get together to fight this dangerous virus and also support those most vulnerable to the economic fallout at the same time.

In fact, today, in this hour of a health crisis and the climate emergency, we cannot afford to tackle one or the other. We are unfortunately left with no choices. We must deal the both at the highest possible priority with an integrated approach. The both serve as tragic reminders that these global risks require immediate joint collective actions. Leaders need to work together, to identify the priority challenges and get prepared well in advance, share information and mobilize enough resources to make their own citizens and others, much stable, safer and healthy. As countries move forward with their revised national climate plans and set new commitments under the Paris Agreement, it is critically important that they take the necessary time to adjust to the current situation, while also aiming to achieve the highest possible ambitions, aiming strongest climate actions. It's is a matter of positive sign that a number of smaller developing economies have, already initiated the lead role by announcing that they would come forward with enhanced plans for further lowing the carbon intensity of their GDP. But now we need more of that large economies should step-up more of their ambitious targets. These national climate plans should not be derailed from the recovery, but instead should be an integral part of national efforts to create enough jobs, boost growth, reduce health risks, and build more resilient economies.

The greatest challenge of the time today is, when the most of the nations of the Globe were crippling with huge financial crisis and resource crunch to meet their daily-day-today developmental goal needs, while allocating a justified budget out-lay, also to meet their climate action commitments; there is an every chance that, sudden appearance of COVID 19 Pandemic, may forcibly snatch way a considerable quantity of our valuable time, attention and after all our limited financial resource base, throwing climate actions far behind, which our Leaders, Policy Makers and Thought Leaders have to take as an urgent call at this point of hour and carefully strike a balanced approach, without further delay.

Leaders should commit to uplift the devastated communities against the Pandemic and adverse impact of the climate change together, to build back our all the systems better, converting every challenges into opportunities to make our people, economies, and communities safer and stronger. In Post COVID 19 period, we are likely to change our lifestyle habits, our industrial production systems, our age old traditional agricultural production practices, and many such things, where in this changed systems, we should have enough scope to include new investment options in decarbonising technologies and better preparedness for the future shocks of all kinds. If done right, investments in low-carbon infrastructure and related solutions can always boost employment; deliver higher productivity, and higher added value to the economy than traditional, polluting and carbon-intensive activities. In addition, when the business leaders and the finance sector all over the world, should wake up to the economic benefits of low-carbon and resilient investments, and the risks of the alternatives, it is high time that Governments should follow their lead and seize this moment to make a more decisive shift toward climate-smart, resilient growth that would certainly benefit their people and above all the global economy at large.

We look to the UK government and UNFCCC to move forward with arrangements and take necessary steps soon to set a next date for COP 26. We encourage them to set a new date and time, as early as possible, preferably within first quarter of 2021, as this COP is very important to mobilize global support for immediate and strongest possible climate actions, which is an urgent call of the time.

Our hearts are with those families, who lost their near and dear ones or anyway got affected by the global pandemic. The COVID-19 Pandemic is a stark reminder of the inequities in our vulnerability to global threats. These disparities are heightened by a rapidly warming world.

What lessons are we learning from this difficult time ? - Right now, kind of lessons, we learnt and experiences, we gained so far, during this time of misfortune, is how to build a resilient and at the same time, an equitable and sustainable Planet, in near future ? In fact, Planet needs all of us to join our hands now and to work together for creating a safer and stronger world for everyone.


The Author is a Director General at Indian Institute of Sustainable Development (IISD), New Delhi.





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Source: FORTUNE - Sights and Sounds from a Socially distanced world - From New York to Paris



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Source: Energy Live News TV / Mr. Jonny Bairstow