Climate change has not stopped while COVID19 rages, according to the United in Science 2020 multi-agency report, whose findings were presented on 9 September 2020 .
The report, coordinated by the World Meteorological Organization, finds that greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere are at record levels and continue to increase. After a temporary decline caused by the lock-down, emissions are heading in the direction of pre-pandemic levels. The world is set to experience its warmest five years on record and is not on track to meet agreed targets to keep global temperatures well below 2 °C or at 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels.
The report highlights the increasing and irreversible impacts of climate change, affecting glaciers, oceans, nature, economies and human living conditions.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres states: “Never before has it been so clear that we need long-term, inclusive, clean transitions to tackle the climate crisis and achieve sustainable development. We must turn the recovery from the pandemic into a real opportunity to build a better future.”
Joining the UN’s call for action are a growing number of banks, investors and businesses, urging governments and corporations to commit to a green recovery from the pandemic, arguing this will simultaneously address the current economic and climate crises. There is an increasing recognition of the economic value of “natural capital” – water systems, biodiversity, soil and carbon store
A recent report by the World Economic Forum argues similarly that “we are presented with an unprecedented clarion call, and opportunity, to change the way we eat, live, grow, build and power our lives to achieve a carbon-neutral, ‘nature-positive’ economy and halt biodiversity loss by 2030. Business as usual is no longer an option.”
The report highlights the need for a fundamental transformation across three socio-economic systems:
- food, land and ocean use;
- infrastructure and the built environment; and
- extractives and energy.
Because these three systems drive the threats endangering our planet, they also offer significant opportunities to reverse nature loss. The report argues that transforming these systems now could generate up to US$10.1 trillion in annual business value and create 395 million jobs by 2030.
There is general agreement that a global green recovery is urgent and needs to enhance socio-economic inclusivity and equality. Such a recovery needs to proceed through partnership and cooperation across nations, involving governments and business.
Dr Anne Morris,
Chair, Environment and Sustainable Development, ICJW