Governments should invest to overcome coronavirus and climate change

The morning sun rises over a neighborhood as a heatwave continues during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Encinitas, California, U.S., August 19, 2020.

Mike Blake | Reuters

SINGAPORE — Governments should continue to make investments that combat climate change, even while they focus on coping with the coronavirus pandemic, said Judith Rodin, President Emerita at the University of Pennsylvania.

“We should use all the money that’s being poured into the economic recovery from Covid, which is an extraordinary crisis and an extraordinary challenge,” Rodin told CNBC on the sidelines of the Singapore Summit, pointing out there’s a high number of cases and deaths from the virus.

There are more than 30 million reported cases of Covid-19 around the world, and the death toll worldwide has risen to more than 944,800, according to data compiled by the Johns Hopkins University.

“We want governments to be paying attention to them, but we want them to make the investments in ways that can benefit sustainability and natural resources,” she said on Friday.

Citing the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report, Rodin said the world’s financial resources are going to be enormously challenged by climate change and the depletion of resources such as water — “all of the things that really do influence our health and human safety, and I think the mantra should be that we have to save the planet to save ourselves — including from future pandemics,” said Rodin.

Climate change is here and it’s real … we absolutely must address it, not only with government action but with leadership, with demonstrating to the general public that everybody has a role in preventing further climate change.

Judith Rodin

President Emerita at the University of Pennsylvania.

Rodin said the issuance of social bonds could help ease pressure on governments.

“These are strategies that engage the private markets and the public markets in ways that produce financial outcomes and at the same time take some pressure off governments to create the kinds of policies and the kinds of financing that give the public markets confidence in investing in the recovery,” she said.

She emphasized the need for everyone to address climate change.

“Climate change is here and it’s real and we must, we absolutely must address it, not only with government action but with leadership, with demonstrating to the general public that everybody has a role in preventing further climate change and in all of the other positive actions,” said Rodin.

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