Climate emergency: lessons from the Covid-19 emergency?

David Sugden (Lead / Corresponding author), Alan Werritty, Janette Webb, Andy Kerr

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)


    The COP-26 United Nations Climate Change meeting, scheduled to be held in Glasgow in 2021, is an important step in the world’s attempt to deal with the climate emergency arising from increasing greenhouse gas emissions. Here we look at how society has responded to the Covid-19 emergency and compare it with the response to the climate change emergency, the latter based on our experience of a Royal Society of Edinburgh Inquiry on climate change published nearly ten years ago (RSE, 2011). With reference to Covid-19, civil society’s response to the lockdown showed the power of clear political leadership and also the willingness of people to work together. On the negative side, the UK national test and trace system struggled because of a disconnect between national and regional activities. In our climate change report, we identified similar organisational barriers that were impeding a move towards a low-carbon future, especially the lack of responsibilities and powers at a city regional scale. If Scotland is to reduce emissions seriously, the focus needs to be on transport (30% of emissions), heating and agriculture. Without more responsibility and power at a city regional scale, Scotland will not achieve its emissions targets.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)49-56
    Number of pages8
    JournalScottish Geographical Journal
    Issue number1-4
    Early online date2 Jan 2020
    Publication statusPublished - 14 Feb 2020

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Geography, Planning and Development
    • Earth-Surface Processes


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