Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, numerous parallels have been drawn between this health crisis and the climate crisis. Science plays an important role in advising decision makers on how to ensure sustainable crisis management and a precautionary approach to avoid harmful repercussions, particularly where we do not yet know all the consequences of our actions. Intergenerational solidarity also plays a meaningful role. Thanks especially to the Fridays for Future movement, 2019 was a key year for the younger generation to ask for solidarity from older ones in light of the tremendous effects of current and future climatic changes. Nowadays, the older generation can expect this kind of solidarity from the young generation, given their increased vulnerability to COVID-19-related risks.
Furthermore, the devastating effects of the Coronavirus illustrate how a world driven by great interconnectedness is vulnerable to even greater disruptions such as climate change—and how quickly this translates into a financial crisis. Global stock markets reported losses of USD 16 trillion in over the past month. Pressures in one region of the globe can significantly affect supply chains in others, causing massive systemic risks. COVID-19 has and will continue to have catastrophic consequences for people’s well-being. The impacts on human health and millions of unemployed people are a tragedy in itself. According to a recently published paper by UNU-WIDER, the economic impact of COVID-19 could increase global poverty for the first time in three decades, pushing an additional 420-580 million people into poverty.
Participants in political events also drew parallels between the two crises. During the Petersberg Climate Dialogue in April, for example, Svenja Schulze, German Federal Environment Minister, not only referred once again to the important task of listening to scientists. She and other colleagues from the Environment Ministries also stressed the need to link the recovery to the imperatives of decarbonisation and to forge green deals. This should guide countries through the process of recovery in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis (whenever that may be). In addition to recovery, resilience-strengthening is a shared responsibility of both agendas – especially from a global perspective and with regard to countries in fragile contexts – as is also outlined in the United Nations report “Shared Responsibility, Global Solidarity”, published in March as an initial reaction to the health crisis.
There is an urgent need for both green recovery and strengthening of resilience. We dig deeper into these topics in this issue of the newsletter, with articles looking into compound crises in times of COVID-19 in countries such as Brazil, climate diplomacy lessons for tackling the health crisis, and coping with the pandemic’s impacts on fossil fuel markets.
What exactly triggers food riots? At which point does climate change come in? And what can we learn from analyzing the lack and impotence of government action in conflict areas? In our Editor’s Pick, we share 10 case studies from the interactive ECC Factbook that address the connections between food, the environment and conflict. They show how agriculture and rural livelihoods can affect stability in a country, which parties are involved in food conflicts and what possible solutions are on the table.
Tensions in the South China Sea increased last April when a Chinese coast guard ship sank a Vietnamese fishing boat near the Paracel Islands—a fiercely disputed territory in the South China Sea. Disputes over island territories in the region have endured for decades, with China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei all making overlapping territorial claims. The region is rich in natural resources and biodiversity, holding vast fish stocks and an estimated 11 billion barrels of oil and 190 cubic feet of natural gas.
Without a coordinated strategy to tackle flooding disasters beyond the traditional infrastructural measures and river water sharing agreements, South Asia’s woes will continue in the future.
With Argentina's ‘yes’, the Escazú Agreement is one step away from coming into force. What’s its status in each country?