April, 2020

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?






💚On the current environment: caution, reminders and resources.

2020 was going be the big one, Lambeth 2020, COP26 & the Environment Bill all set to fly 1/1/21 – the first two postponed and the third will now be different. It will all be different. However, people are finding new roles & being so kind.
How we talk about Climate and Nature now (regarding drops in emissions etc) is important, there are many discussions about treading carefully, for a number of reasons, so I think gently drawing on our policy of 2016 and sustaining people’s current activities is important. I have been subtly reminding pledge 2 is built to enable people to be resilient to emergencies (where is my vitamin c in a crisis? Or where are my local sources if I can’t grow it?) as well as cutting emissions (as many of you know)! I just really hope, people who are buying from local suppliers will be able to carry on afterwards, to maintain this connection with resilience. Here in Truro the local market has taken to doing free deliveries, with free sweets to cheer folk up. It would be good to hear your thoughts.
Items I refer to – just some of the points being discussed by IPCC author François Gemenne that Chris Stark Chief Exec for the Committee on Climate change invites us to be cautionary about;
  1. insensitive to the ordeal many families are living through right now
  2. these temporary effects will probably be insignificant
  3. emissions always tend to bounce back after a crisis, it needs a steady and regular drop, not a ‘blank’ year
  4. Governments are announcing plans to revive fossil industries and are challenging climate change measures in the name of economic recovery
  5. some warn against saying “the epidemic is a rehearsal for climate change.” It’s dangerous: this crisis and climate change do have a lot of common, but they are fundamentally different
  6. climate change is not a “crisis”: it is an irreversible transformation. There will be no going back to normal, no vaccine
So, to sum up, please consider being ready from Easter Sunday to talk about new beginnings, staying healthy and boosting immunity by eating local seasonal produce twice a week where possible (P2), perhaps asking people where they are getting it from? Connecting with those suppliers, praying for them. Praying for the people to have courage and consider growing a little at home, perhaps a window box or potato bag on their doorstep. Perhaps talking about your own experience?
Pledge 3 helps people understand the bigger, long term picture of similar things, in their own spaces. As you have heard me say, I have long seen the Church as the right place to prompt this, with open arms and a hand to hold. Please encourage people after Easter, during this down time to find ways to explore Pledge 3 that suit you. Again, Chris Stark has said upon COP26 being postponed, “we have a window to understand the implications of the COVID19 crisis and reboot UK climate diplomacy in its wake”. We can all be helpful in this. We have learnt we do not need to wait for Government to tell us, we must help, they do keep asking us all to help, and we can be the place.
Our Environment Policy states we are aware that the life systems of the earth are suffering serious damage as a result of human activity; so perhaps we can try and stay in the habit of thinking about our footprint?

Until you measure your own footprint, you’ll never understand, its not about the quantity at first, its about understanding it (P6).

Perhaps a revisit to the policy, will help people to think how they might continue to work through our plan; the 10 pledges for individuals, the Green Church Awards for Churches. This is also great preparation for the 2030 target that will be talked about later this year.
I have created a YouTube channel, where you might find content for services/meetings/planning, labelled according to pledges and awards. This importantly is also usable for people who do not have a camera on their system. This allows you to frame it according to how you feel. I can also send you films if you wish to mix them in your services  You might wish to subscribe and you’ll get a notification when I upload service material (I have more to add). Plus we also have this as a great JOYFUL introduction to the 10 pledges things people can do from home, guided by your experience of them is comforting and leads to success.
The yellow flyer has everything on here 10 Pledges & Green Church Awards.
If you wish to join my Eco-Mailer, please sign up here. It is only sent out when there is exciting or necessary news. It boosts my part-time hours maximising my efforts.
Thank you.
Luci Isaacson MSc FRGS
Diocesan Environment Officer, Diocese of Truro