Time for Nature: Is a global public health crisis what it takes to protect the planet’s biodiversity?

By Edward Perry, Policy Analyst, OECD Environment Directorate

WED Blog shutterstock_1703194387_low_nwm
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Lois GoBe

Today is World Environment Day. As countries across the globe are still reeling from the human, social and economic cost of COVID-19, dedicating today to nature might seem ill-timed. Let me tell you – it’s not.

Our disruption of ecosystems and exploitation of wildlife may well be why we are in this mess. To reduce the risk of future crises, COVID-19 recovery packages must recognise the importance of nature for human health, well-being and the economy. This year’s theme for World Environment Day – Time for Nature – could not be more appropriate.

Read More

Déjà vu all over again …. Or is it? Learning from the past to green the COVID-19 recovery

By Shardul Agrawala, Head of the Environment and Economy Integration Division, OECD Environment

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Aleksandar Mijatovic

As governments rush to commit vast sums of money to respond to the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis, there are growing calls to “green” these recovery packages.

In a way, it’s like déjà vu all over again, to borrow a phrase from baseball legend Yogi Berra, reminiscent of similar calls in the wake of the global financial crisis of 2007-08.

At that time, over half a trillion US dollars [1] were committed worldwide to the green stimulus. These investments were directed at activities such as the deployment of renewables, improving energy efficiency of buildings, removing inefficient cars from the road, investing in clean technology R&D, and improving infrastructure for mass transit. Many of the same investments are now being called for as part of the COVID-19 fiscal response.

What can we learn about the impact of green stimulus packages from over a decade ago? A great deal in fact [2].

Read More

Why is there a shortage of disinfectants during the COVID-19 crisis?

By Bob Diderich and Sylvie Poret, OECD Environment Directorate

Disinfectant
Image credit: Shutterstock

I’m sure many of you recently had the same experience I had. I went to the pharmacy in the early days of the pandemic and, before I opened my mouth, the pharmacist said “we’re out of masks and hydro-alcoholic gel”.  I had a prescription for allergy medicine, which I was fortunately able to get filled.

Indeed, pharmacies and stores across the world have been raided and it has been quite difficult to buy hand sanitisers for some time now. So what causes this shortage? It should be relatively easy to produce these hydro-alcoholic gels and flood the market.

Of course there is the physical production process and the difficulties to secure enough raw material. But alcohol is a rather common product. Many of you may have seen the news of vodka producers donating distilled alcohol to producers of disinfectants.

Read More

TEG it easy : The landmark EU Sustainable Taxonomy takes shape

By Mireille Martini, Policy Analyst, Green Finance and Investment, OECD Environment Directorate

green-finance-shutterstock_750493204-reduced
Image credit: Travis Wolfe / Shutterstock

On 12 March 2020, the European Commission released the final reports of the Technical Expert Group (TEG) on Sustainable Finance, including the final reports on the EU Sustainable Taxonomy. The OECD has been supporting this process as an observer since the inception of the group in June 2018. For a wide range of stakeholders and policymakers, the final EU Taxonomy reports represent an important milestone. But what exactly do they address? What is at stake? How does the OECD add value to the process? What are the next steps, and how is the EU Sustainable Finance Taxonomy relevant in the Covid-19 situation? In order to answer these questions, let’s start with the basics. Read More

Empowering women as clean energy entrepreneurs

By Lylah Davies, Clean Energy Finance and Investment Mobilisation Programme, OECD Environment Directorate

SolarEnergy
Image credit: Shutterstock / Only_Kim

Women currently account for approximately 32% of total employment in the renewable energy sector, compared to 22% in the more traditional oil and gas sector. On the one hand, this tells us that women are generally under-represented in the energy sector overall, but on the other, it shows that renewable energy, as a younger and more dynamic sector is an opportunity for change. With energy-related greenhouse gas emissions at a historic high in 2019 and 800 million people still lacking access to energy, the world needs to keep moving towards cleaner energy options. Further increasing the gender diversity of the renewable energy sector will help societies to tap into more innovative potential to drive this transition. Yet, barriers remain for women entering the renewable energy sector that need to be addressed in order to increase participation.

Read More

5 things we learned at the OECD Wildfires Conference

By Catherine Gamper and Lisa Danielson, Climate Change Adaptation Team, OECD Environment Directorate

shutterstock_771743461-wildfire
Image credit: Shutterstock / Janos Rautonen

It has been another unusually mild winter in Europe, with January and February feeling more like the beginning of spring. At the same time, summer in the Southern Hemisphere could not have been more different. Australians experienced the hottest and driest summer on record, surpassing the record highs of previous years. Since the early 1980s temperatures have been steadily rising in Australia, with the annual national mean temperature in 2019 being  1.52 °C above the 1961–1990 average.

Read More

Environmental education: Knowledge is power!

By Alexa Piccolo, Special Advisor, OECD Environment Directorate

Image credit: Fabio Michele Capelli / Shutterstock

“Climate change is not a lie, we won’t let our planet die!” Building on the momentum of global school strikes organised in the spring of 2019, about four million students took to the streets around the world on 20 September 2019. Students voiced their concern about the climate crisis, demanding immediate action from public authorities. Never before had young people demonstrated in such huge numbers in favour of climate action, in either democratic or non-democratic countries.

Days after the protests, world leaders gathered in New York for the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit. There, 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg – who had reached the event in a sailboat to reduce her trip’s carbon footprint – addressed the UN General Assembly with a passionate speech. Read More