Planetary Health is Human Health

By Shannon Mora

As the world continues to navigate our recovery stage for the COVID-19 crisis, it is the government’s responsibility to plan and develop programs that will restore a healthy economy without compromising a healthy environment. In a previous article, Sustainability After COVID-19, I discuss the benefits of shelter in place policies indirectly had on the environment by decreasing daily global emissions by 17%. Since the steady lift of these policies those reductions have almost entirely been reversed, a conflict I foreshadowed in this same article. Companies under the United Nations’ Science Based Targets initiative released a statement to address COVID-19 relief with a combined focus on sustainability.

The United Nation’s Science Based Target initiative (SBTi) is a collaboration between CDP, the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), World Resources Institute (WRI), and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and one of the We Mean Business Coalition commitments. With a purpose to encourage private sector participation in climate action, the SBTi offers resources, workshops, and guidance to reduce the barriers of adopting best practices. At its conception, the goal was for a science based target setting approach to be the norm for businesses and corporations to shape reduction targets by 2020. Due to the recent crisis, 176 international companies committed to the SBTi including Kellog, Unilever, and one of CCC’s own offsetting client’s Schneider Electric, supported the release of Uniting Businesses and Governments to Better Recover, a statement concluding 3 strategies to recovering from COVID-19.

The first strategy is to continue to keep science based targets as the forefront of decision making. Plans, programs, and proposals grounded in case studies will reduce uncertainty and result in the highest impact towards a 1.5°C trajectory. Secondly, any stimulus to boost the economy should be rooted in prioritizing green jobs, divesting from fossil fuels, and investing in more low-carbon solutions. This will ensure the protection of public health and livelihood as well as the protection of natural resources. Lastly, it will be necessary to scale up the movement and set more ambitious goals. The spotlight is on policy-makers to develop COVID-19 relief programs which align with each of the goals above. Through sound government leadership, companies will have the confidence and clarity to turn these inclusive programs into action.

The reductions seen by a united effort to shelter in place and combat the spread of COVID-19 is proof that a united effort can achieve both public health and planetary health. Only through solidarity will we be able to accomplish both. Join the Science Based Targets initiative today.