Synergies between COVID-19 and climate change impacts and responses
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionPelling, M., Kerr, R. B., Biesbroek, R., Caretta, M. A., Cissé, G., Costello, M. J., Ebi, K. L., Gunn, E. L., Parmesan, C., Schuster-Wallace, C. J., Tirado, M. C. & van Aalst, M. (2021). Synergies between COVID-19 and climate change impacts and responses. Journal of Extreme Events, 8(3): 2131002. doi: 10.1142/S2345737621310023
The COVID-19 pandemic and anthropogenic climate change are global crises. We show how strongly these crises are connected, including the underlying societal inequities and problems of poverty, substandard housing, and infrastructure including clean water supplies. The origins of all these crises are related to modern consumptive industrialisation, including burning of fossil fuels, increasing human population density, and replacement of natural with human dominated ecosystems. Because business as usual is unsustainable on all three fronts, transformative responses are needed. We review the literature on risk management interventions, implications for COVID-19, for climate change risk and for equity associated with biodiversity, water and WaSH, health systems, food systems, urbanization and governance. This paper details the considerable evidence base of observed synergies between actions to reduce pandemic and climate change risks while enhancing social justice and biodiversity conservation. It also highlights constraints imposed by governance that can impede deployment of synergistic solutions. In contrast to the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, governance systems have procrastinated on addressing climate change and biodiversity loss as these are interconnected chronic crises. It is now time to address all three to avoid a multiplication of future crises across health, food, water, nature, and climate systems.