COVID, Climate Change, and Resilient Recovery

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The world is facing an unprecedented convergence of crises as the COVID-19 pandemic is compounding existing health, economic and environmental problems. Experts are weighing in on what the pandemic can teach us about climate change and how we can use this crisis to learn, adapt, and come out more resilient on the other side. Below are links to timely articles and information.

Parallel threats of COVID-19, climate change, require ‘brave, visionary and collaborative leadership’: UN chief
by Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary General

To combat the COVID-19 pandemic and the “looming existential threat of climate disruption”, the only credible response is “brave, visionary and collaborative leadership” anchored in mutilateralism, as elaborated by the UN Secretary General António Guterres. (UN News)

Actions for a climate-positive recovery — Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary General

  1. Deliver new jobs and businesses through a green and just transition while accelerating the decarbonization of all aspects of the economy.
  2. Use taxpayers’ money to create green jobs and inclusive growth when rescuing businesses.
  3. Shift economies from grey to green, with using public financing that makes societies more resilient.
  4. Invest public funds in the future, to projects that help the environment and climate.
  5. Consider risks and opportunities for your own economy, as the global financial system works to shape policy and infrastructure.
  6. Work together as an international community to combat COVID-19 and climate change.

Emergency Preparedness

Be prepared: Key lessons from the coronavirus pandemic and climate change
by Nathanael Johnson, Grist

World Resources Institute and the Global Center of Adaptation’s report, Adapt Now, strives to focus awareness about the need to prepare, despite high costs, for the climate crises. This article ties together the growing realization that government refusal to address the immediate pandemic crises only makes the argument for climate disruption preparation seem “blindingly obvious.”

Coronavirus shows we are not at all prepared for the security threat of climate change
by Kate Guy, Senior Research Fellow, Center for Climate and Security

How might a single threat, even one deemed unlikely, spiral into an evolving global crisis which challenges the foundations of global security, economic stability and democratic governance, all in the matter of a few weeks?  The author worked with security experts to analyze how future warming scenarios could disrupt security and governance worldwide throughout the 21st century. Their culminating report is A Security Threat Assessment of Global Climate Change.

What Happens If a ‘Big One’ Strikes During the Pandemic?
by Robin George Andrews, The Atlantic

Hundreds of preexisting plans deal with individual natural-disaster scenarios. But these plans haven’t accounted for COVID-19 happening at the same time.


Environment and Health

Q&A: Could climate change and biodiversity loss raise the risk of pandemics?
by Carbon Brief

The study of the “spillover” of disease from animals to humans has received renewed focus in light of the pandemic.

Coronavirus, the environment, and you: Coronavirus explained
by Gwen Ranniger, Environmental Health News

The Covid-19 pandemic is exacerbated by climate change, the environment and our lifestyles.

New research links air pollution to higher coronavirus death rates
by Lisa Friedman, The New York Times

A study from Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health is “part of a small but growing body of research that offers a view into how a lifetime of breathing dirtier air can make people more susceptible to the coronavirus.”

Coronavirus, climate change, and the environment
by Environmental Health News staff

A conversation on COVID-19 with Dr. Aaron Bernstein, the director of Harvard University’s Center of Climate, Health and the Global Environment.

Next UN climate science report to consider lessons from coronavirus
by Alister Doyle, Climate Change News

Scientists are studying how far human pressures on the natural world are raising risks of pandemics. They will weave lessons from the coronavirus outbreak into the next UN climate science report, even as their work is delayed by lockdowns. The UN climate science report for policymakers is due out in 2021.


Food Security

Dumped milk, smashed eggs, plowed vegetables: Food waste of the pandemic
by David Yaffe-Bellany and Michael Corkery, The New York Times

The coronavirus pandemic is highlighting the complexity of our food supply chain and its inability to adapt. Increasing numbers of people are facing food insecurity while 5% of the country’s milk supplies are being dumped and crops are being plowed back into the soil.

As supermarkets feel hazardous and sparse, small farms deliver
by Tejal Rao, The New York Times

Local and regionalized food supply chains are proving more resilient — able to adapt to new market pathways and customer needs in the face of the pandemic’s economic disruption.


Recovery, Economics, and Infrastructure

Resilient Recovery: Using climate adaptation plans to build back better
by Anne Hammill, International Institute for Sustainable Development

Though focused on climate change, National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) offer important assessments of the risks a country faces and can be valuable in devising more comprehensive pandemic response strategies.

COVID-19 and Climate: Risk, Mitigation, and Resilience
by Ned Harvey, Tyeler Matsuo, and Christian Roselund, Rocky Mountain Institute

When a disaster strikes, there is a tendency to see it as unique and unforeseeable; a deviation from the standard order of things. Even the legal language around so-called “natural” disasters references “acts of God”. And yet, even if we do not know when they will come or in what form, in the early 21st century there is nothing more predictable than disasters.

Build sustainable infrastructure and create clean jobs for a resilient future
by Bill Weihl, Opinion Contributor, The Hill

We don’t need an old-school boondoggle infrastructure bill. We need future-focused legislation to build sustainable infrastructure and create clean jobs to begin to bend the curve of carbon emissions.

After the Coronavirus, Two Sharply Divergent Paths on Climate
by Fred Pearce, Yale Environment360

Some policy experts are optimistic that victory over the coronavirus will instill greater appreciation for what government, science, and business can do to tackle climate change. But others believe the economic damage caused by the virus will set back climate efforts for years to come.

Resilient Cities Catalyst Launches COVID-19 Resource Series with National Roadmap for Economic Resilience
by Resilient Cities Catalyst, CSRWire

Resources provide expert thinking as cities and communities pivot from recovery to resilience in the wake of COVID-19’s economic, health, and infrastructure impacts.

5 lessons from coronavirus that will help us tackle climate change
by Christiana Figueres, Time Magazine

Christiana Figueres, former U.N. secretary of the U.N. framework convention on climate change, discusses the similarities and differences between climate change and coronavirus in hopes to better position us towards less expensive prevention-based solutions for the future. If our next decisions to restart the economy take into account that global challenges have no borders and we are only as safe as our vulnerable people, “political and financial leaders now have an unprecedented historical opportunity to accelerate the energy transition putting us onto a safe path toward.”

Innovating to Solve Two Crises at Once
by Cyril Yee and Bryan Guido Hassin, RMI

By applying lessons learned from the 2008 cleantech collapse, we can address this pandemic while also supporting innovation to tackle climate change.


Poverty and Environmental Justice

Three ways the Coronavirus is shaping sustainable development
by Richard Florizone, IISD

The COVID-19 pandemic is first and foremost a humanitarian crisis. Efforts to contain the virus and support those directly impacted are of utmost importance.

Climate change: Lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic, a blog
by Dr. Aparna Bole, pediatrician and Health Care Without Harm Board Chair

One of the valuable lessons from the fight against COVID-19 has been how we can take collective action to respond to a crisis. The lessons of COVID-19 also show us our current social structures are unsustainable. “We can remember from the tragic inequities being underscored by this pandemic that equity and justice must be the foundation of global climate action.”

Opinion: Think this pandemic is bad? We have another crisis coming
by Rhiana Gunn-Wright, Director of Climate Policy, Roosevelt Institute

This opinion piece by Rhiana Gunn-Wright, director of climate policy at the Roosevelt Institute, argues that addressing climate change and environmental justice will not diffuse efforts to address the economic fallout from COVID.

Q&A: Richard Besser, Philanthropic leader and former head of the CDC
The Daily Yonder

As states reopen their economies, we need to pay careful attention to what happens to rural areas and other marginalized communities, where lack of health care access, poverty, immigration status, racial discrimination, lack of safe housing, and food insecurity result in great disparity over how communities can respond.

The government should bail out families, not the fossil fuel industry
a blog by Gary Cohen, Health Care Without Harm founder

Cohen shares, “the coronavirus pandemic may yet serve as an example of how we leveraged a crisis to scale up our own social safety net and build community resilience.” He calls for the government to prioritize support for working-class families instead of committing taxpayer funding to toxic industries like oil and gas that harm the public and the planet.


Videos

What coronavirus could teach us about the climate crisis

CNN’s Bill Weir looks at the parallels between coronavirus and the climate crisis.

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Due to COVID-19, please check listings for cancellations.
  • ACCO The Climate Superheroes Webcast #16
    Date: July 7, 2020
    Location: Webinar

    Learn more and register here.

  • TransitionTown Fairfax
    Date: July 8, 2020
    Location: Green Acres Community Center 4401 Sideburn Road. Fairfax, VA

    Monthly meeting. Contact: Judy Fraser

  • Citizens Climate Lobby Weekly Information Sessions
    Date: July 8, 2020
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  • Natural Solutions to Climate Change - Hosted by UVA clubs
    Date: July 9, 2020
    Location: http://alumni.virginia.edu/events/event/D3V1E5mB6O

    On-Air with Karen McGlathery: "Natural Solutions to Climate Change"

    The UVA Clubs program and the Environmental Resilience Institute invite you to join Karen McGlathery for a private conference call to…

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