How COVID-19 changes climate communications

A woman wearing protective gear and carrying a roll of loo paper shouts into a loud speaker

After a year of climate change being a top media story and public policy concern in many countries, attention is and will be rightfully focused on COVID-19 for some time. This puts climate leaders in a tough situation.

Given the unprecedented disruptions to health, economic and social systems the health emergency is creating, there is a real risk governments, businesses, communities, households and individuals will lack the time, financial resources or emotional capacity to address the climate emergency by cutting emissions and preparing for impacts, even long after the pandemic has passed.

It’s also conceivable that the coronavirus crisis will lead us further into division and political polarization, rather than sustaining momentum around coming together.

Climate action cannot stall out. It’s impossible to know how long the coronavirus crisis will last, but the science is clear that time is running out to avert catastrophic climate change. Climate communicators must find ways to advance the conversation.

Sensitivity is required. Now is not a great time to tout the emission and pollution reductions occurring due to the economic shutdown. It is, however, a moment of great change where worldviews and values are being reassessed and reordered. This creates opportunities to connect the health crisis to climate change and advocate for solutions that address both.

  • COVID-19 is revealing the vulnerability of the systems we rely on and the need for systemic change to ensure safety, health and economic well-being.
  • COVID-19 has the potential to shift views regarding civic duties and responsibilities.
  • The coronavirus is making painfully clear how interconnected the world is and the importance of launching a rapid and coordinated government response to a global problem.
  • The critical role science plays in responding to a crisis is also being elevated.
  • Now, more than ever, is a time for compassion.

This is an excerpt from an article by Cara Pike, originally published on GreenBiz.

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