froman5_Jenny MatthewsIn Pictures via Getty Images_children climate protest Jenny Matthews/In Pictures via Getty Images

Public-Private Climate Urgency

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced governments and businesses to re-evaluate their environmental impact while demonstrating the power of collective action. The task now is to deliver on climate commitments with a whole-of-society approach, and that starts with effective public-private partnerships.

NEW YORK – Less than 12 months ago, private-sector leaders came together at the World Economic Forum with a sense of optimism and a series of new commitments to re-energize the fight against climate change. Ambitious goals were set, and bold plans were announced. And then COVID-19 struck.

Owing to its ferocity and widespread impact, the pandemic has disrupted lives and businesses in ways unseen in our lifetimes as the world was forced to take drastic action – economic lockdowns, travel restrictions, school closures, and much else – in pursuit of self-preservation. Amid so much human suffering, there is a perverse irony in the fact that global greenhouse-gas emissions this year declined by a record-breaking amount. At least now we have all witnessed the potential impact of collective action.

But we should not treat temporary developments as a new normal. As COVID-19 vaccines are rolled out and the world gains its first glimpse of an exit from the crisis, we must chart a new course toward an inclusive recovery, ensuring that the race to reset the economy does not reverse the progress made on other fronts – not least climate and the environment.

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