Climate Change and the Economy in the Context of COVID-19

Climate Change and the Economy in the Context of COVID-19

I attended a webinar from the Capital Region Climate Readiness Collaborative, a Non-governmental organisation (NGO) in Sacramento, California last night, not only because the content is right up my street, but the timing meant little one was in bed. Who would have thought, it would be ok to talk about that at work? The event was fantastic, as my work is about how to get people ready for the risks of climate change, that mostly, they do not want to hear about. While COVID-19 is very different, it also has many similarities. Here is a summary of enlightened thinking, opportunities and cautions.


Highlights the need for preparedness

What has happened regarding COVID-19 highlights the need for preparedness. This is what our work is all about at Cornwall Community Flood Forum, Cornwall Council’s Strategic Resilience Board and the South West Regional Flood and Coastal Committee (RFCC).


The key now is to ensure we avoid maladaptation – use low carbon solutions

In our world, of climate risk studies and preparedness, we of course observe what is happening alongside what our plans ‘were’. The key now is to ensure we avoid maladaptation, for example any funding to help, can also help move assistance to use low carbon solutions; stipulating a low carbon pathway. I can already hear people saying “this is not the time’ but anyone saying that is guilty of causing more trauma on society, the NHS and the economy, by ignoring the facts. We cannot cope with two great disasters such as COVID-19 and climate change.

Examples posed were;

  1. regarding the local food suppliers, saving and feeding communities and how they might switch to essential low carbon transport and be assisted with that by government.
  2. How some roads had already been switched to pedestrianised areas, in places being considered anyway, in order to help pedestrians pass each other safely

These are opportunities and there are more!

These are opportunities and there are more! While home energy costs cause further worry, we can flag up opportunities to become more efficient and help promote grants readily available, while people ‘might’ have more time.

Talk about Climate, as part of a fiscally sound pathway forward

It is the best time to talk about Climate, as part of a fiscally sound pathway forward. The partners at this webinar:

  • Yoon Kim​, Managing Director, Global Client Services | Four Twenty Seven
  • Michael McCormick​, Senior Vice President | Harris & Associates
  • Kate Gordon​, Director | Governor’s Office of Planning and Research

all said climate change had NOT dropped off the radar during the crisis.

Consider the cost savings (e.g. Zoom interviews with offenders rather than travel costs), emissions savings (e.g. not future flooding costs) and the boost of access to services whereby more elderly are connected with doctors etc How many people actually want to drive long distances to work, school, appointments, conferences? We can put a value on these savings and the related savings e.g. the cost to the taxpayer of a road less travelled (or built).

The financial markets – investors already realise this, people need to keep up. Reimagine a resilient economy, transport, housing, infrastructure, agriculture, energy and electricity broadband, the workforce, land, tele-working/education/medical etc What works for you? Can you be the innovator? Can we look at the value of jobs nearer homes, smarter development?

If you are still focussed on wishing to return to normal, in denial about educating yourself about climate risk, upset that this is talked about in the face of COVID, I sympathise, it’s all rather horrid, but ask yourself, how will you look after children if a heatwave affects us now? Locked into their hot homes? I have already seen a power cable spark and cause a gorse fire in my hometown of Truro last week. The firemen said, “probably due to everyone at home and overuse”. Shall we dodge the heatwave worsening now? Shall we weave low carbon solutions into our recovery, to push that other disaster away, as we grow and perhaps seek out the opportunities here? Perhaps you are the one that has more ideas and can be helpful to your council now?