Ethical Corporation's editor Terry Slavin talks to The Climate Group's Helen Clarkson about the prospects for a green recovery in the wake of Covid-19, the importance of a just transition, and her hopes for COP26
This week’s Petersberg Climate Dialogue convened 30 environment ministers from around the world in a virtual two-day conference to discuss how to organise a green economic recovery after the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic is over.
In the video interview below, recorded after the event, Helen Clarkson, CEO of The Climate Group, tells me that the difference between today and the global economic crash in 2008 is that climate change considerations are no longer regarded separately from the need to get economies back on their feet.
“The shape of the economy is the shape of the future of the climate, and therefore it makes sense to talk about the two together,” she says.
Citing remarks by UN Secretary-General António Guterres and UK business secretary Alok Sharma, president of COP26, which has been delayed until next year, she says “We are seeing that [attitude] from politicians and in opinion polls … We don’t want to build the same economy we had before.”
In the interview Clarkson talks about the need for ambition in EU’s Green Deal, and how nine members of Climate Group’s electric vehicles initiative EV100 last month called on the EU to retain 2020 CO2 targets for cars, vans and trucks.
There has been no let up to other campaigns, including its renewable energy initiative RE100, and its energy productivity group EP100, with companies signing up at the same rate during lockdown, despite the demands to respond to Covid-19.
“The corporate response is still happening. People are still making commitments. That’s what we are trying to push, and we want to make sure that pace is kept up.”
The Climate Group is also secretariat to the The Under2 Coalition, a global community of 220 state and regional governments, including California and New York states, and Wales and Scotland in the UK, committed to ambitious climate action in line with the Paris Agreement. She speaks about how The Climate Group is working with them on their recovery plans post-Covid-19.
And she speaks about Climate Group’s plans for Climate Week New York this year, and how it is crucial to keep the pressure on governments to come up with ambitious plans for Cop26, when it is rescheduled some time next year.
Critically, she says, Covid-19 has brought home the importance of ensuring that the energy transition is just. "We are seeing how the pandemic affects people in unequal way and exacerbates inequality. We need to ensure that as we tackle the climate crisis that we do it in a way that is just and equitable."
You can listen to the 18-minute interview below.climate action #buildbackbetter EU Green Deal US climate EP100 RE100 ClimateWeekNY Under2 Coalition