The COVID-19 pandemic has hit our world on a scale beyond living memory, taking millions of lives and leading to a lockdown of communities worldwide. A pandemic, much like climate change, acts as a threat multiplier, increasing vulnerability to harm, economic impoverishment, and the breakdown of social systems. Even more concerning, communities severely impacted by the coronavirus still remain vulnerable to other types of hazards, such as those brought by accelerating climate change. The catastrophic risks of pandemics and climate change carry deep uncertainty as to when they will occur, how they will unfold, and how much damage they will do. The most important question is how we can face these risks to minimize them most.
The Fight for Climate after COVID-19 draws on the troubled and uneven COVID-19 experience to illustrate the critical need to ramp up resilience rapidly and effectively on a global scale. After years of working alongside public health and resilience experts crafting policy to build both pandemic and climate change preparedness, Alice C. Hill exposes parallels between the underutilized measures that governments should have taken to contain the spread of COVID-19 – such as early action, cross-border planning, and bolstering emergency preparation – and the steps leaders can take now to mitigate the impacts of climate change. Through practical analyses of current policy and thoughtful guidance for successful climate adaptation, The Fight for Climate after COVID-19 reveals that, just as our society has transformed itself to meet the challenge of coronavirus, so too will we need to adapt our thinking and our policies to combat the ever-increasing threat of climate change.
Unapologetic and clear-eyed, The Fight for Climate after COVID-19 helps us understand why the time has come to prepare for the world as it will be, rather than as it once was.
1. Account for the future, not just the past
2. Prepare for concurrent, consecutive, and compounding disasters
3. Plan across borders
4. Weave tighter safety nets
5. Jumpstart resilience
6. Marry mitigation and adaptation
Conclusion: Adaptation can no longer wait
Alice C. Hill is Senior Fellow for Climate Change Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. Previously, she served as Special Assistant to President Barack Obama and Senior Director for Resilience Policy on the National Security Council and led the DHS Leadership Group responsible for bio-security and bio-preparedness efforts, including pandemic planning efforts. Her first book, Building a Resilient Tomorrow, co-authored with Leonardo Martinez-Diaz, was published in 2019.
"It is easy to say that the time to act on climate is now. What Alice Hill has done in this thoughtful and informed volume is clearly assess where we can best make decisions to help our governments, our businesses, and our most vulnerable populations adapt to a warmer and higher risk planet."
– Sylvia M. Burwell, President of American University and former Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services
"As Alice Hill explains, there is no shortage of actions that governments, communities, and individuals can take to reduce climate risk. The Fight for Climate after COVID-19 is a must-read for citizens and policy makers interested in building a future resilient to the next disaster."
– Carlos Curbelo, former US Representative, Florida
"This visionary page-turner offers a policy roadmap for nations and communities to save lives and improve well-being by adapting to our climate change future, even as we work to control it."
– Linda Fried, Dean of the Mailman School of Public Health and Senior Vice President, Columbia University Medical Center
"In The Fight for Climate after COVID-19, Alice Hill builds the case for climate adaptation in a clear and engaging way, including useful parallels and lessons from the coronavirus pandemic. This insightful book provides a compelling global look at the climate crisis for decision makers at all levels."
– Patricia Fuller, Ambassador for Climate Change, Canada
"Alice Hill brings a long lens of scholarly and federal leadership experience to encompass the full landscape of our concurrent disasters, COVID-19 and climate change, and the cascading smaller disasters that have accelerated in frequency and severity over the last several years. The Fight for Climate after COVID-19 distills her incredible experience and knowledge into insights that shine a light on the way forward to assure the health and welfare of humankind in the context of an ailing global system."
– Lynn R. Goldman, Dean of the Milken Institute School of Public Health, George Washington University
"Alice Hill's new book reads like an informal briefing in the White House Situation Room on how to handle the climate crisis: Hill knows all the players, all the science, and all the politics. This is an excellent guidebook for any policy maker or citizen of planet Earth who wants to turn this crisis into opportunity and help build a better world."
– Jeff Goodell, author of The Water Will Come
"Coronavirus and climate change have more in common than you might imagine. Experts have warned us of their risks for years, yet as Alice Hill explains, both largely took us by surprise – and that lack of preparation is costing us, dearly. Hill makes an unarguable case for climate action with clear, lucid arguments and riveting real-life examples that will stick in your head long after you've put the book down. Anyone concerned about the future must plan for a warming world, and this book shows us how. Essential reading!"
– Katharine Hayhoe, Chair of Public Policy and Public Law, Texas Tech University and United National Champion of the Earth
"While we race to cut emissions to stabilize our climate, we must also prepare for the climate impacts we can't avoid. This book is a must-read for policy makers, businesses, and community leaders looking to secure a prosperous future in a changing climate."
– Fred Krupp, President, Environmental Defense Fund
"While we must do everything in our power to reduce greenhouse gas accumulation, Alice Hill reminds us that there is no vaccine for the disastrous impacts of climate change. Her book is an invaluable guide to how governments and societies can and must adapt to our rapidly changing climate."
– David Michaels, member of the Biden-Harris Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board and former Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration
"Alice Hill provides a fascinating perspective from the frontlines of societal and governmental responses to two huge crises – climate change and a global pandemic. The parallels she offers in this book are highly practical lessons which we should all take to heart."
– Andrew Rosenberg, Director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists
"This essential volume illustrates the urgency of the present and the importance of climate education to build a new and better future. Climate crisis requires action on all fronts; it's time we should be able to enjoy the benefits of nature, not just its threats."
– Izabella Teixeira, former Environment Minister of Brazil
"Even if the world does all it can to reduce emissions, the need for much greater resilience in response to the impacts of climate change grows more urgent every day. In this timely and important book, Alice Hill has written a straight-forward, readable guide to help governments, businesses, and communities take action."
– Todd Stern, former US Special Envoy for Climate Change
"Alice Hill offers a new path in a debate currently dominated by false choices. We must mitigate and adapt to address climate change. Blending personal stories with policy discussions, she offers insights and ideas that are forward-looking, creative, and practical. Anyone interested in the future of our climate, our cities, and our country should read this book."
– Francis X. Suarez, Mayor of Miami
"The Fight for Climate after COVID-19 offers a deeply researched glimpse of future disasters and a pragmatic assessment of how to prepare for them."
– Sheldon Whitehouse, US Senator, Rhode Island