Covid-19 failures show the need to prepare for climate-related risks and opportunities

21 May 2020

Covid-19 failures show the need to prepare for climate-related risks and opportunities

Global leaders are learning lessons from the Covid-19 crisis but there are calls to think ahead to climate risks, which according to Kate Guy are the “next big thing”. Kate Guy is a senior research fellow at the centre for Climate and Security, a US-based think tank. According to Thomson Reuters Foundation in their article here, she said at an online event that countries around the world have for years analysed how security threats, from terrorism to nuclear weapons use could play out globally, but relatively little work has yet been done on climate change in this context.

A hotter planet could bring shocks to global food systems, dry up vital water supplies or give populist leaders an excuse to give themselves emergency powers, as seen in the Philippines and eastern Europe with Covid-19, Guy told the event.

According to Thompson Reuters Foundation, recent research conducted by Guy and military officials found that near-term impacts of climate change would be much more severe than originally anticipated and that in the long-term, no region of the world is unaffected. Climate change impacts are increasingly catastrophic, meaning that there is no way back from them.

Neil Morisetti, a former Royal Navy commander and British climate envoy, said systems breakdowns linked to the coronavirus pandemic made clear “you need a much more holistic approach” to security challenges which could include minimising international supply chains and getting military and economic officials to monitor climate risks.

At IMS we think that the coronavirus pandemic will force policy makers to re-think how to ensure economies more resilient against unforeseen events, which could include additional consideration of climate change. For companies, the shocks of Covid-19 are a clear demonstration of how fragile a corporate strategy can be against unforeseen circumstances. In our view, this highlights the importance of carrying out scenario analysis in line with the TCFD recommendations to assess a wide range of potential future climate scenarios, and to ensure that a business strategy is resilient enough to cope with potential climate shocks.