Climate Action

To tackle two crises, world leaders stress green recovery plans

After months of coronavirus pandemic lockdowns, at least a dozen countries loosened restrictions on Monday. Italy reopened some stores and industry, Lebanon reopened bars and restaurants and Germany reopened playgrounds, museums and churches.   

Meanwhile, regions of the United States, a country where coronavirus cases continue to steadily increase, also eased restrictions this week. 

Of course, easing restrictions doesn’t mean returning to normal. Since coronavirus struck early this year, millions of people have died and the economy has tanked. But as we adjust to life post-pandemic, we should reassess how we got here and how we move forward. 

Knowing that COVID-19 very likely originated in wildlife — and that climate change and human activities like deforestation increase human contact with wildlife — we can start incorporating climate and environmental solutions into recovery plans. 

Many world leaders have argued as much.

“We need a financial market that provides cheap capital for climate-friendly investments,” said Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel, last week in a video call

In September 2019, Germany unveiled a $60 billion climate plan, which aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. Last week, Merkel reaffirmed this goal. 

That attention to climate action in economic restructuring echoes United Nations’ Secretary-General António Guterres, from a week earlier. In a video address on Earth Day, Guterres argued the need to “turn the recovery into a real opportunity to do things right for the future.”

“Public funds should be used to invest in the future, not the past,” said Guterres. 

Guterres also recently pointed to South Korea as a “remarkable example” for how countries can combine coronavirus and climate change in recovery plans. 

Last month, South Korea, which has been a model for coronavirus containment, became the first East Asian country to commit to net-zero emissions by 2050, adopting similar policies to Europe’s Green Deal

A very new, different world will exist after the pandemic. But a new world also means new opportunities for creating a more sustainable future. Let’s hold our leaders accountable and elect politicians that put the planet first, both during and after the pandemic. Learn more at Earth Day Network’s Vote Earth campaign.