THE CLIMATE emergency should trigger the same drastic response from politicians as the pandemic, a new study from a Scottish university has found.

The report, led by Glasgow Caledonian University's (GCU) Centre for Climate Justice, has recommended that governments should mirror the real-time data issued during the pandemic to provide regular reporting about loss of life and the damage caused by the impact of extreme weather brought on by climate change.

The research focused on the experiences of policymakers in parts of sub-Saharan Africa and will be used to inform discussions ahead of the COP26 conference taking part in Glasgow in November.

The study revealed a fear that resources allocated to tackle the Covid-19 crisis would detract from funding previously promised to mitigate the climate emergency – or that financial constraints due to the pandemic would lead to a “downright reduction” in climate action commitments.

The GCU piece of work recommends that industrialised nations must be encouraged to commit higher levels of financial support and technology transfer to countries in the developing world.

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Researchers also examined how the pandemic has affected the implementation of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), national plans for climate action submitted by countries under the Paris Agreement in 2015.

The research consortium included the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) and academic partners in Africa.

GCU’s Dr Sennan Mattar, who coordinated the work alongside Dr Michael Mikulewicz and partners from PACJA, said: “Although Africa accounts for a very small portion of global greenhouse gas emissions, African governments are committed to doing their share in stopping the climate crisis.

“However, many of their NDCs are conditional on receiving adequate financial support from industrialised nations.

“Combined with the existing considerable development challenges across the African continent, it is crucial that NDC and development funding is not stopped or curtailed despite the economic fallout caused by the pandemic in wealthier nations.”

The study included a desk-based review of literature, an online qualitative survey and semi-structured interviews with participants from public, private and third-sector organisations in Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, and South Africa.

A number of those interviewed for the study observed that climate change, “despite ultimately being more deadly than the virus”, has “failed to elicit the same level of urgency” among governments and civil society.

The research found that the public health restrictions placed on gatherings and face-to-face contact for consultations were singled out as the most devastating impact of the pandemic for the NDC development process, which caused “significant delays” while workarounds were developed.

Researchers said there is a need to integrate Covid-19 recovery with climate action for a two-pronged strategy.

Dr Mithika Mwenda, executive director of PACJA, said: “We are now past the point where we can address the Covid-19 pandemic and the climate emergency as separate crises.

“This report shows that the pandemic has not only forestalled urgently needed action to halt and begin reversing global warming, but it has also worsened existing vulnerabilities to climate change, weakened the adaptive capacities of communities and countries, especially in Africa, and raised the cost of future climate action.

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“We, therefore, cannot have pandemic recovery plans that serve as excuses to further delay ambitious climate action.

“To be deemed successful, these plans must integrate the twin risks posed by Covid-19 and climate change by freeing up resources for the implementation of NDCs.”

The data and recommendations will be used to inform policy makers on how best to shape post-Covid-19 reconstruction on the continent.