As governments, companies, and investors mobilize massive resources to combat COVID-19, leaders have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take bold action against global climate change.
By focusing on the climate agenda, even in the midst of this pandemic, leaders can direct investments toward sustainability, rebuild businesses for environmental resilience, and contribute to solving two crises at once, according to a new publication by Boston Consulting Group (BCG). The report, “Climate Should Not Be the Virus’s Next Victim,” was released on May 27, 2020.
In the wake of the pandemic, global carbon emissions are expected to decline by 5% to 10% this year—the largest drop since World War II. But this decline in greenhouse gas emissions won’t halt climate change if the global economy reverts to the status quo.
“The global community is facing a clear choice,” said Michel Frédeau, a BCG managing director and senior partner and a coauthor of the report. “We can go back to how things were, or we can seize this moment to build a greener, more resilient economy.”
Governments, Companies and Investors Should Invest in Climate Resilience
COVID-19 offers a dramatic illustration of what happens when leaders ignore early warning signs, but it also highlights what we can achieve, individually and through cooperation, when truly pressured to act for the greater good.
“Governments, companies, and investors now have an important role to play in orchestrating a recovery that addresses the current crisis, while building a strong foundation to tackle climate change,” said Veronica Chau, a BCG partner and director and a coauthor of the report.
The report outlines key actions for governments, companies, and investors:
- Governments should link stimulus funding to a green recovery, structure relief packages to prioritize sustainable business models and climate disclosure standards, and manage a “just transition” of the workforce toward a net-zero economy.
- Companies can systematically reduce carbon emissions while reducing costs, streamline supply chains, and decarbonize their business and product portfolios.
- Investors should continue to emphasize the importance of climate in investment allocation and stewardship, integrate climate risk into credit models, and invest in a green recovery by leveraging green bonds and other climate-friendly initiatives.
An Opportunity to Fuel Economic Growth and Rebuild for the Future
Before COVID-19, climate change was on a positive trajectory: CO2 emissions had leveled off in 2019, companies and investors were increasingly placing climate at the top of their agenda, and governments were revisiting their climate plans ahead of COP26.
“The world was not prepared for this pandemic, but the climate crisis is entirely predictable,” said Patrick Herhold, a BCG managing director and partner and a coauthor of the report.
“The question is: Will we look back in ten years and see that we used this moment to launch a green economic recovery—or that we missed the chance? If the latter outcome sadly proves to be the reality, we will be forced to reckon with an even more devastating and permanent global crisis,” he added.