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.
The longstanding dispute over water rights among Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia escalated in 2011 when Ethiopia began construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), in the absence of any agreement with downstream Egypt. The GERD dispute offers an alarming insight into just how dangerous future transboundary water disputes may become, particularly in the context of a changing climate.
Coinciding with the first days the German Presidency of the European Council, on 3 July 2020 adelphi and the Institute for European Studies at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel launched a new report “The Geopolitics of Decarbonisation: Reshaping European Foreign Relations”. This summary highlights the event's key outcomes.
Women in the region suffer disproportionately from climate impacts, but they also play an essential role in addressing climate change. With the right policy responses, it is possible to reduce security risks and empower women to better address the challenges they face.
Russia’s economic development minister warned last week that the EU’s plans to deploy a carbon tax at the bloc’s borders will not be in line with World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, just as Brussels doubled down on the idea of green tariffs.