UNFCCC Exekutivsekretärin Patricia Espinosa

UN climate chief Espinosa: "The corona crisis is an opportunity for change"

In an interview with the German news magazine Spiegel, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Patricia Espinosa expressed her fear that states may not meet the commitments of the Paris Agreement due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Climate action has moved into the background as a result of the crisis. Upcoming meetings to address it have been cancelled or are taking place virtually. The COP26 climate summit planned for November had to be postponed.

“Unfortunately, I cannot rule out that the willingness of states to act on climate will be affected by the current crisis. But climate change is not slowing down just because we are postponing the climate conference to next year. Climate change does not just go away due to corona,” says Espinosa.

As she emphasizes, the Covid-19 outbreak is an opportunity to consider the potential magnitudes of other crises: “Corona is showing us how badly a global crisis can affect us as a global community. We are getting an idea of how destructive the climate crisis could be in the coming decades. We should treat it as a wake-up call."

It is clear that measures against Covid-19 are of top priority right now. Espinosa points out, however, that climate protection should be part of the solution: "We need to show countries that it is not a matter of “either corona or climate". On the contrary: Climate protection and investing in green technologies could help many countries get their economy back on track in the long term. ”

"This is an opportunity for change," Espinosa says, particularly a change in how we consume. “The kind of hyper-consumption that we had before the crisis is no good for anyone - neither the climate nor the people. We should see the crisis as an opportunity to move towards sustainability. The past few years have shown that countries that invest in technologies with reduced CO2 emissions have an advantage. Many investors are rethinking their approach - and that’s for economic, not climate policy reasons. "

"Even before the crisis, it was clear that investments in fossil fuels had no future," she continues. "It just doesn't make sense to invest your money in technologies that destroy the planet."

In 2020, the climate crisis cannot be forgotten due to the corona crisis. "The longer we wait, the more severe the consequences will be," Espinosa concludes.

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