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Tackling Climate Change with COVID-19 Urgency

The COVID-19 threat has shown that governments can act swiftly and resolutely in a crisis, and that people are ready to change their behavior for the good of humanity. The world must now urgently adopt the same approach to the existential challenge of climate change.

DUBLIN/CAPE TOWN – In recent weeks, the world has been focused on urgently battling the fast-evolving COVID-19 pandemic. The World Health Organization, governments, and central banks have acted rapidly to mitigate the virus’s impact, while scientists, policymakers, and public-health experts are sharing vital data via sophisticated tracking tools. And the large number of people who have recovered from the virus attests to the efficacy of the response to date.

But in addition to the novel and immediate COVID-19 threat, the world also faces an unprecedented climate and environmental emergency. Governments and businesses must now start addressing climate change with the same resolve and urgency that they are showing in fighting the pandemic.

Consider air pollution, which kills an estimated seven million people worldwide each year. Unlike COVID-19, this threat is not new, stems from multiple sources, and is closely linked to how we heat and light our homes, move around, and deal with waste – daily habits that are deeply embedded in our lifestyles and economic systems. Tackling such a complex challenge thus requires action on many fronts to reduce the risk of even more premature deaths.

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