Tim Lord Profile picture
7 Apr, 19 tweets, 5 min read
Coronavirus has taught us a lot about how to respond to systemic risks – 10 key lessons are captured in our new report out today: “Covid-19 and climate change: How to apply the lessons of the pandemic to the climate emergency”. Summary 🧵...
Nature of threats from Covid-19 and climate are of course different – but there are significant areas of crossover. Both require local/national/global solutions, and both susceptible to exponential escalation – see charts below. So what are the lessons?
1: Act quickly. Those who acted fast on Covid had the best outcomes. Those who delayed – a strategy neatly captured by Macron in this quote from last week – have not. Excuses for slow pandemic response don’t apply to climate.
2: Tackle the problem – or face new and more difficult challenges. Just as failure to suppress the virus has led to spread of new variants, so failure to cut emissions leads to feedback loops and much bigger problems ahead (e.g. methane release from thawing permafrost).
3: Economic success depends on positive health and environmental outcomes: For covid, trade-off has been presented as “The more we do to suppress the virus, the worse the economic impact”. But countries which succeeded in suppressing have had better economic outcomes.
Equivalent for climate is: “Action on climate change is costly. Therefore, acting to reduce emissions will reduce economic growth.” But this is based on a false counterfactual (see below).
4: Failure anywhere is failure everywhere. For covid, weaknesses in international cooperation have extended the pandemic, and failure to support low-income countries is both a moral and practical problem – without effective global strategy the crisis will be deeper and longer.
Same for climate: we need to get to zero emissions globally, and do it fairly. Otherwise the climate keeps warming, and those who bear least responsibility face the biggest costs.
5: Build a strategy with sustained political leadership and commitment. Failure to set and implement clear strategy leads to confusion and uncertainty for people and investors. Clear strategy on climate is essential to build public confidence and enable investment to flow.
6: Mitigate and adapt at the same time: for both covid and climate, mitigation and adaptation are sometimes treated as either/or. Essential to do both together – reduce the impacts, and deal with those we can’t avoid.
7: Gather and use the right data: Covid has shown importance of clear, transparent data, and high quality dataviz (h/t @jburnmurdoch and many others); and of being willing to act where data is incomplete (e.g. the UK’s successful strategy of maximising first doses of vaccines).
Same for climate: better data, better used, is key to both policy and communications; and lack of perfect data is not an excuse for delaying action.
8: Markets and technology will provide solutions if government sets the right framework: Covid has shown the power of innovation - and how state and private sector can work together well (vaccines) and less well (ventilators).
Climate emergency requires market and state to work together – governments setting frameworks which drive innovation and technology investment (see below). State understanding its role, and having the capacity to deliver it, is key as @instituteforgov have pointed out.
9: Success depends on the right skills and supply chains: Covid has shown just how dependent we are on supply chains and skills to deliver public policy outcomes – particularly when working at pace.
Net zero needs whole new sectors, and reskilling of existing workers in areas like heating and construction – need to plan ahead for that or we will have insufficient capacity, and miss out on economic opportunities.
10: Build and retain public trust and understanding: Covid has shown the importance of consistency and clarity of comms, focusing on the important (indoor transmission, not whether scotch eggs are a substantial meal), and leaders walking the walk.
Same for climate – public are demanding action, but understanding is low and comms confusing. Urgent need to strengthen public understanding of what’s needed, engage people in designing solutions, and provide clear and consistent messages.
On the upside, Covid-19 responses have shown what can be achieved when we treat an emergency as an emergency - essential that we now apply those lessons to climate.

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with Tim Lord

Tim Lord Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @timbolord

31 Mar
Really important report from @escatapult on an underestimated element of the net zero transition – how we design electricity markets to deliver objectives in a low cost way that works for consumers. (1/)
Decarbonisation of power is seen as “the easy bit” of delivering net zero because we’ve had success to date. But next phase of the transition is different to the last – electricity will play a different role in our energy system, and markets are not optimised for that. (2/)
We focus heavily on technology innovation, but innovation in market design is just as important. UK has long been a leader – from privatisation in the 80s/90s, to Electricity Market Reform a decade ago. We should be a leader again. (3/)
Read 12 tweets
30 Mar
ONS low carbon jobs stats published yesterday – my thoughts on what this tells us about government policy, and how we need to figure out what a “green job” really is. (1/)
Overall, job and turnover stats in the low carbon sectors measured by the ONS are pretty flat – with a decline (within the margin of error) between 2018 and 2019. (2/)
Stagnation in jobs/turnover results from lack of ambitious and stable policy – particularly in jobs-rich areas like energy efficiency. Green Homes Grant one example of where that isn't happening (cc @rharrabin), (3/) bbc.co.uk/news/science-e…
Read 5 tweets
29 Mar
I was asked at a Q&A recently about Thick of It style stories from working in government. Looking at some old HMG docs on climate today reminded me of a little story which sheds light on how decisions sometimes get made in Whitehall… Long 🧵
Disclaimer: Obviously decisions usually get made in a rational way on best available evidence etc etc. But not all the time.
So, we were about to launch a major climate/energy strategy – everyone was very excited about it. Big launch planned, parliamentary debate, top of the news.
Read 18 tweets
22 Mar
New report out today: “Polls Apart? Mapping the Politics of Net Zero”. We’ve looked at public opinion data on climate action and find record levels of concern – but also real risk of growing political divisions. Thread (1/) @institutegc institute.global/policy/polls-a…
Recent polling data indicates high levels of concern, and there is currently consensus around climate change in the main parties’ positions – 95% of voters supported parties committed to net zero at the 2019 election. (2/)
We’ve explored how deep that concern is, and whether a political coalition to act on net zero can be built and maintained. (3/)
Read 14 tweets
17 Mar
Significant announcements from HMG today on industrial decarbonisation and cutting emissions from the public sector. Press notice seems to be out before the document, but some early thoughts… (1/)
The good: £1bn for public sector energy efficiency / low carbon heating is positive –public sector has to lead if business is to follow. Funding for industrial projects starts to put flesh on bones of “green industrial revolution” (but doesn’t look like new money). (2/)
The less good: HMG funding for net zero industry is important, but long-term business models are what really matters. Looks like the strategy will be light on detail on carbon pricing, competitiveness, decarbonising steel etc. More a set of ambitions than a plan. (3/)
Read 7 tweets
3 Mar
Important debate emerging on the meaning of “net zero” and whether the risks of it being debased as a prompt for climate action mean we need a new language / objective. My view – having worked on the UK legislation – is that it’s worth fighting for, for three reasons.
First, net zero (rather than absolute zero) is the right objective. Absolute zero is not plausible in areas like aviation/agriculture – and it’s good that we have an incentive for development of negative emission technologies so we can reduce CO2 concentrations further in future.
Second, no matter what the terminology / objective, the problem that some people / orgs will try to debase the term, or present insufficient action as compliant with it, isn’t going away. So saying we have to be e.g. compliant with 1.5 degrees won’t solve the issue.
Read 6 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!