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How Climate Targets Can Help Economic Recovery

Instead of delaying updates to nationally determined climate targets while the COVID-19 pandemic continues, governments should consider how these targets could be used to leverage the economic contribution of nature-based solutions. Chile offers an example of how that could work.

SANTIAGO – With the world gripped by the COVID-19 pandemic, policymakers have turned their attention to economic stimulus and financial support of households and firms. As a result, many countries have been delaying the preparation and submission of their new emissions-reduction targets under the Paris climate agreement. These updated targets, known as nationally determined contributions, or NDCs, were originally due earlier this year, ahead of the COP26 climate-change conference in Glasgow, Scotland in November. But that, too, has been postponed.

The switch from summits to stimulus is understandable. But we should not lose sight of the important role that NDCs can play in economic recovery efforts. NDCs are among the best vehicles for governments to articulate their vision of future economic growth and technological transformation, both of which have clear links to job creation. Moreover, setting the targets provides a golden opportunity for countries to identify shovel-ready projects and activities that can deliver both climate and economic benefits.

Chile is a good example. The government announced an updated climate pledge in April, together with a new climate bill that is currently before the National Congress. The updated NDC links climate action to sustainable development and a just energy transition. At its core is a commitment to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, and it is easy to see how the government’s pandemic response can help to achieve this goal by accelerating the necessary transitions in the energy and transportation sectors.

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