Climate, health: better prevention, better healing



The Covid-19 sanitary crisis is a systemic global crisis with multiple social, economic and financial ramifications. The sharp decrease in French greenhouse gases emissions resulting from confinement measures remains marginal and temporary. It is imperative that the Government’s response to the Covid-19 crisis supports structural transformations that accelerates a just transition to a low-carbon economy, for it will strengthen our resilience to sanitary and climate risks.


Lessons to be drawn from the crisis

Early warning systems are to be strengthened within a strong international framework, and crisis surveillance and strategy management are to be informed by science. Resilience in view of multiple and simultaneous crises must be strengthened by coherent investments following priorities defined in the Sendai 2015-2030 action frame for reduction of catastrophe risks. The index of exposure to climate risks must be completed with specific indices of vulnerability. Addressing these vulnerabilities implies a reduction of underlying inequalities to reinforce the resilience of the population as a whole and its adaptive capacities.

Integrate the climate emergency to post-crisis responses

To address to the economic, social and financial impacts to come, post-crisis and stimulus plans must integrate the climate emergency: a reduction in greenhouse gases emissions and the adaptation to present and future inevitable climate changes. To further public debate, it is important to highlight advances made by the Citizen’s Climate Convention (Convention citoyenne pour le climat). Crisis recovery measures must be included in the climate blueprint of each Ministry. The implementation of these measures must be followed and evaluated by the Council of ecological defence. For an efficient and transparent governance, the emergency plan must address the recommendations published by the HCC in 2019, in particular those relating to the Productive pact and to policy evaluation.

Guiding principles for a green “stimulus plan”

A “Stimulus plan” will need to consider the profound factors of the present situation, which will lead to profound transformations that respect climate issues. This “recovery” must be green, not grey, maximise co-benefits for climate and ecosystems, and must not lock down on carbon-intensive trajectories. Synergies between climate, environment and health must be reinforced: fight against pollution and imported deforestation, healthy diets, evolution of modes of transportation.

Budgetary and fiscal measures to be deployed

Granting of budgetary measures or fiscal incentives for private actors or local authorities should be clearly subordinated to the explicit adoption, by these actors, of investment plans and perspectives compatible with lowcarbon trajectory and the multi-annual program for energy. Investments must be oriented towards social and technological innovation, energy efficiency, and resilient infrastructures that favour decarbonized uses, and solutions based on the ecosystems’ health. Structuring sectors providing jobs for a long-term transition must be prioritised. The low price of oil must facilitate the reconversion of fiscal exemptions and other fossil energy subventions, according to the principles of a just transition. Debt must be redirected towards investments that support a low-carbon transition. Reform of the European emissions trading system must be completed by the adoption of an increasing floor price.

France’s international leadership is expected

Within the framework of the Paris agreement, it is necessary to defend the articulation of European and international plans with the nationally-determined contributions that will be presented before the end of the year, to avoid being trapped in high emission trajectories. Important evolutions of the international context – fight against deforestation, the Montreal protocol – must remain priorities.