2020 was supposed to be a critical year to address climate change. One of the greatest hazards for climate policy is that governments, international organisations and companies may have fewer resources and less time to focus on it, thus weakening industry environmental goals to reduce emissions.
Ahead of the UN’s climate summit COP26, 196 countries were expected to introduce revamped plans to meet the emission reduction goals established under the 2015 Paris Agreement. However, in the face of the pandemic, the summit was postponed to 2021.
Other international meetings related to climate - on biodiversity and oceans - have also been disrupted. If the outbreak continues, it could force the cancellation of the EU-China summit in Leipzig in September, aimed to build a climate alliance.
The virus outbreak is also threatening developing countries’ plans to step up climate action this year as expert meetings are being postponed and resources are mobilised to address the public health crisis.
Specific impacts on climate action due to the COVID-19 pandemic are summarised here
Gearino D, “Coronavirus ‘Really Not the Way You Want To Decrease Emissions’” (Inside Climate News, March 2020)
Newburger E, “Coronavirus Could Weaken Climate Change Action and Hit Clean Energy Investment, Researchers Warn” (CNBC, March 2020)
Watts J, “Coronavirus Could Cause Fall in Global CO2 Emissions” (The Guardian, March 2020)
Wilkinson D and Chávez LT, “How Covid-19 Could Impact the Climate Crisis” (Human Rights Watch, April 2020)