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Climate stabilization: Lessons from the pandemic

Climate stabilization: Lessons from the pandemic

The dynamics of the current COVID-19 pandemic could offer valuable insights for the efforts to mitigate climate change. Highlighting the parallels between the global health and the climate emergency, a team of researchers from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) has analyzed what policy makers and citizens can learn from the corona outbreak and how to apply it to the global effort of reducing CO2 emissions. Their proposal: A Climate coronavirus Contract that unites the younger and the older generations.

"The corona crisis is a test case for global emergency prevention and management in general," says lead author Kira Vinke. "The pandemic has shown that when reaction time is kept to a minimum, a larger public health crisis can be averted. In fact, we should take this very lesson to heart and apply it to managing the climate emergency."

Assessing risks and predicting outcomes

Vinke and the team of authors have looked at four dimensions of risk management: diagnosis, prognosis, therapy and rehabilitation. They deduced which lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic could be used to stabilize global mean temperature. "The risks and causes of both the coronavirus and the climate crisis have to be scientifically assessed and quantified," explains PIK director and co-author Johan Rockström. But just as important as diagnostics are prognostic approaches: "Countries like New Zealand and Germany were able to predict the outbreak's possible effects and moreover had the ability of immediate action. In the same vein, the global community must integrate climate risks assessments into decision making and act accordingly."

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