Do we need a green recovery? The short answer is yes.
To avoid the worst health impacts of climate change we need to drastically reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and become net-zero by 2050. This is just 30 years. A short time for a drastic transformation of our energy system. Doable, but challenging.
Governments around the world are forging ahead with economic stimulus packages of unprecedented size. If this money is not spent wisely, we will miss the window of opportunity to make the drastic cuts needed to meet the goal of the Paris Agreement to keep global warming well below 2°C.
The most immediate and personal impact of climate change is on health. The 1°C warming is already having negative effects and an additional 1°C of warming would have more severe impacts on the ecosystems we depend on, making it even more difficult for humans to adapt. This emphasises the importance of limiting warming to less than the 1.5°C target set in the November 2015 Paris Agreement.
2020 is expected to be among the warmest years since industrial times. After an unprecedented fire season in Australia, a record release of CO2 is being emitted from wildfires in the Arctic which is experiencing record high temperatures (38°C). Current warming trends are closer to the worst-case rather than best-case global warming scenarios.
There is no time left to wait and see.
The duty of governments is to look after the health and well-being of their populations. A green recovery is essential for a more resilient, equitable and healthy world. We must take action now to make sure it happens.