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Global climate dialogues to boost climate work

Forest and misty clouds. Photo.
Forest in Morzine, France. Photo by Guy Bowden on Unsplash.

The climate crisis has received less media coverage during the corona pandemic despite that many think the climate challenges demand equally urgent attention. During the coming two weeks the United Nations gather the world in the Climate Dialogues 2020 “to increase the momentum for greater climate ambition” in an online format. Our climate researcher Markku Rummukainen comments on the event.

When the world is focused on tackling the corona crisis Markku Rummukainen, professor of climatology at Lund University and at SMHI, Sweden’s focal point for the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), argues that handling the corona crisis and managing the climate crisis are interlinked. He thinks a key issue for the climate is how the resources for recovery from the pandemic will be used.

“It can either considerably speed up climate efforts, or greatly slow them down, depending on whether investments are made in line of societal transformation with climate solutions, or if they shore up old solutions such as fossil fuel extraction and use.”

Although Markku Rummukainen says it’s too early to know whether our habits, such as travel habits and telecommuting, will change on a more permanent basis, he thinks the Climate Dialogues event is important to further advance the shared understanding of the challenges and ways forward from where we are now. The pandemic has made it impossible to arrange the climate negotiations as usual in two sets of meetings per year. The online climate dialogue meeting does not replace these negotiations but can help in moving them forward.

“These Climate Dialogues are one way of picking up the speed to address the shared climate agenda and make up for lost time”, says Markku Rummukainen.

What are the most urgent issues to raise at the event?

“The dialogues span over a wide range of topics which together populate the climate agenda of challenges and solutions. Different countries, actors and groups face different risks, have different circumstances and possibilities for action. There is hardly any single most urgent issue - they all matter. Overall, stocktaking - where are we now and what to do next - is very important.”

The United Nations Climate Dialogues will raise both scientific issues and hold discussions for other relevant sectors apart from research, discussing for example land issues, biodiversity and climate adaptation. Some events will be open to the public and others not. Markku Rummukainen argues that dealing with climate change requires co-operation on all levels and across all sectors.

“The international arena is an important one, but it is in turn dependent on national agendas and action, as well as efforts by other stakeholders such as enterprises, cities and the civil society. None of these can do the job alone.”