Will COVID-19 jeopardize a climate in crisis or jump-start green recovery?

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, says Boston Consulting Group.

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.

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, BCG managing director, senior partner and 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.”

COVID-19 offers a dramatic illustration of what happens when leaders ignore early warning signs, but it also highlights what can be achieved, 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, BCG partner, director and 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.

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