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4 Ways to Strengthen Climate Action in the Wake of COVID-19

By: Yamide Dagnet, Nathaniel Cogswell, and Jemima Marie Mendoza

2020 was supposed to be a decisive year for climate action.

Countries were expected to put forward new, more ambitious climate plans (NDCs) in accordance with the Paris Agreement on climate change, kicking off a “decade of ambition.” It was scheduled to be a “super year,” with key events and international decisions for climate, biodiversity and the ocean.

Then COVID-19 happened.

As national and local governments are understandably and appropriately focused on controlling the spread of the coronavirus and providing immediate medical and income support to those affected, many plans have been put on hold.

The UN pushed its major climate and biodiversity summits to 2021 and rescheduled the negotiation sessions preceding them. Some countries delayed consultations and processes to prepare enhanced NDCs as they prioritize public health challenges. Millions of climate activists and citizens around the world are now using their keyboards instead of the streets to call for institutional changes for climate action.

At the same time, the effects of climate change – and the threats they pose to human health and economies – have not gone away. Similarly, authoritative scientific findings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) underscore the need for greater ambition in countries’ climate and biodiversity plans.

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