Young people from around the world are demanding action on the climate crisis; their clamor reached a fever pitch in early 2020. Yet, as fate and nature would have it, the frantic media coverage of the emerging Covid-19 pandemic drowned out many of their voices at a critical time.

Policy makers postponed the United Nations Climate Conference, COP26(opens in a new tab), delaying climate commitments. Stories on climate got relegated to the back page, if they appeared at all.

One year on, a new climate-friendly US administration, an increasingly proactive private sector (from energy to automakers), and eye-watering Covid-19 recovery budgets have brought climate roaring back onto the global stage.

So, what can we learn from the pandemic that will help us to address the climate crisis?

1. Crises do not happen in isolation
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the lives of everyone on Earth, in different ways. Just as for climate change, the impacts of Covid-19 vary by geography and are exacerbated by existing systemic inequalities associated with age, race, gender, disability and economic status.

2. Science and leadership are central to the response
A fundamental truth, borne out by the events of this past year, is that science is central to responding to both Covid-19 and climate change. We need to understand the underlying human drivers of these joint crises if we are to change our trajectories, flatten the curve and drive down Covid-19 transmission and greenhouse gas emissions. Prevention is drastically better than cure.

3. Act now
Covid-19 has made clear the cost of inaction. Countries that responded swiftly and decisively have had less severe economic impacts and more normal lives. In the same vein, with every further setback, the challenge of bringing global carbon emissions into compliance with the 2015 Paris Agreement becomes more difficult, more expensive, and more dangerous. To achieve the Paris Agreement, we must cut carbon emissions dramatically in the coming years.

Read the full article about COVID-19 takeaways by Madeleine Thompson at Wellcome.