COVID-19, Climate Change, and Equity

Challenges, Connections, and Opportunities for Multisolving

Below you can find our resources which explore intersections of the COVID-19 crisis, climate change, equity, and beyond. Dr. Elizabeth Sawin, Co-Director and Co-Founder of Climate Interactive, reflects on how systems thinking approaches are necessary during this time. Her ideas highlight the need for applying a multisolving lens – emphasizing that as we find solutions to address one crisis, we can remediate and prevent other issues. These resources are ideal for exploring the interconnected nature of our climate, health, social, and financial systems, and provide “food for thought” to spark constructive conversations.

If you’d like to learn more about green equitable stimulus plans that are being proposed or adopted around the world in response to the COVID-19 crisis, please visit this page.

Elizabeth Sawin

ARTICLES WRITTEN BY DR. SAWIN OR DRAWING ON HER WORK

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COVID-19 Recovery Spending Could Catalyze Transformative Change, But Time is Running Out

Nations must plan now to make sure their stimulus efforts support a green, and more equitable, future.

18 December 2020 – Original post from The Hill

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Multisolving Our Way to COVID-19 Economic Recovery

The next president will be inaugurated in the midst of a raging pandemic, an economic recession, a crisis of structural racism and an escalating climate emergency. The best chance for making progress on any of these issues is to tackle them all together.

16 November 2020 – Original post from The Revelator

Roosevelt Institute

A Green Recovery: The Case for Climate-Forward Stimulus Policies in America’s COVID-19 Recession Response

Ultimately, the US can and should recognize this moment for what it is—a rare opportunity to address two existential crises, climate and economic catastrophe, at once—and work to craft economic packages that capitalize upon it.

October 2020 – Report by Rhiana Gunn-Wright, Kristina Karlsoon, Kitty Richards, Bracken Hendricks, and David Arkush at the Roosevelt Institute

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How can a Coronavirus Response Reduce Inequity and Protect the Climate?

Everywhere you look, records are being broken: record high numbers of people filing unemployment claims; record numbers of new COVID-19 cases in many states; record numbers of people in t he streets protesting for racial equity; and the highest temperatures ever recorded north of the Arctic Circle. Amid a triple crisis, a ‘multisolving’ response can mitigate the effects of the pandemic, inequity and climate change all at once.

9 July 2020 – Original post from Thomson Reuters Foundation

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COVID-19 sucks but it could teach us how to avoid the worst consequences of climate change

COVID-19 is like an accelerated version of climate change, where we will move from recognizing the problem to acting on it to looking for lessons learned over a span of months rather than decades. What might this speeded-up version of climate change teach us about dealing with an existential threat that is growing exponentially?

2 April 2020 – Original post from Resilience.org

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Why We Can’t Ignore the Link Between COVID-19, Climate Change and Inequity

Time and money are in short supply. There isn’t enough of either to treat equity, climate change and the current pandemic as separate issues. A holistic, multisolving approach is an effective, cost-saving way to tackle the great challenges of our times.

1 April 2020 – Original post from US News

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Steps to re-invigorate the economy must free us from polluting fossil fuels

The opportunities are clear, well-studied, and well-documented. Clean air and water don’t only result from loss and upheaval; they can be planned for, designed for, and invested in, and they can even produce other benefits at the same time.

24 March 2020 – Original post from the Daily Climate

INTERVIEWS OF DR. SAWIN

Forbes Logo

How Our COVID Response Can Address Climate Change And So Much More

Part of what we are doing with these multi-solving networks, as well as trying to shift how budgets are spent and how policy is made, we’re also creating  little bubbles of partnership culture as opposed to domination culture.

Article written by Pip Wheaton, 5 February 2021 – Original post from Forbes

Wired Magazine

So, Jeff Bezos, You Really Want to Fix the Planet?

Amazon’s founder is stepping down to focus on other projects, like the Bezos Earth Fund. Here’s what he can do to help fix the mess humans have made of the world.

Article written by Matt Simon, 4 February 2021 – Original post from Wired

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Climate Change is Turning Cities into Ovens

A new model estimates that by 2100, cities across the world could warm as much as 4.4 degrees Celsius. It’s a deadly consequence of the heat-island effect.

Article written by Matt Simon, 7 January 2021 – Original post from Wired

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2020 Was Supposed To Be Our Best Last Chance To Save The Planet. So How Did We Do?

As the coronavirus pandemic raged, hopes this year would be pivotal for climate change action faded. But all is not lost. Yet.

Article written by Beth Gardiner, 19 December 2020 – Original post from Huffington Post

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Could Biden Rebuild the Economy by Funding Green Energy?

Let’s suppose Americans choose Joe Biden to replace Donald Trump as president. (And also that the world doesn’t end sometime in the next month.) What might that mean for the fight against climate change?

Article written by Matt Simon, 8 October 2020 – Original post from Wired

Climate Grief Wired Sept 2020

Climate Grief is Burning Across the American West

Climate change is making wildfires bigger, fiercer, and deadlier, fueling a new kind of despair on the West Coast—and beyond.

Article written by Matt Simon, 14 September 2020 – Original post from Wired

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What the Climate Crisis Can Teach Us About Fixing the Parenting Crisis

Dr. Beth Sawin has spent decades studying systems change, and what she’s learned about the climate crisis and various other crises gave us a surprising feeling … dare we say hope?

Podcast episode on Labor Podcast, 1 September 2020

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What the Pandemic has Revealed about Climate Change Views, Activism

2020 feels like a whirlwind of news and change. But even as new issues — like the coronavirus have arisen — previous problems haven’t gone away and their depths have been highlighted or exacerbated amid the pandemic. One of those issues is climate change.

Article written by Kerri Miller, Breann Schossow, and Kelly Gordon 4 August 2020 – Original post from Minnesota Public Radio

Ensia

From Climate Change and COVID-10 to Racial Injustice, We are In a Period of Rapid Transformation. How Do We Make Sense of What’s Happening?

A perfect storm of crises is forming across the United States. Above our Four scholars from around the world offer insights into how we might steer the tumult of 2020 toward a more positive future.

Article written by Kate Knuth, 14 July 2020 – Original post from Ensia

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How a ‘Heat Dome’ Forms – and Why This One Is So Perilous

A perfect storm of crises is forming across the United States. Above our heads, a “heat dome” of high pressure could blast 80 percent of the continental US with temperatures over 90 degrees for the next few weeks. This coming in a summer when the Covid-19 lockdown has trapped people indoors, many without air-conditioning—and mass unemployment may mean that residents with AC units can’t afford to run them.

Article written by Matt Simon, 10 July 2020 – Original post from Wired

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Want to Design A Livable Future? Try ‘Multisolving’

Dr. Elizabeth Sawin talks about the potential of En-ROADS to change communities and the organization’s practice of “multisolving” — employing collaborative solutions that work for climate change, health, equity and well-being — and how improving the social safety net can also help address the climate crisis.

Article written by Tara Lohan, 1 July 2020 – Original post from The Revelator

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50 years later, Earth Day’s unsolved problem: How to build a more sustainable world

Fifty years ago, flames sprang from the oil-slicked surface of a Cleveland river. Smog choked Los Angeles. Pesticides silenced millions of insects and birds. Oil gushed from a busted well off California, swamping anything that lived in the ocean. Then, on April 22, 1970, 10 percent of America took to the streets for the first Earth Day. It was an unprecedented demonstration on behalf of nature, a declaration that people could not thrive unless the planet did, too.

Article written by Sarah Kaplan, 22 April 2020 – Original post from Washington Post

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Coronavirus Holds A Magnifying Glass To America’s Inequalities And The View Is Brutal

When the COVID-19 pandemic is past, societies may adopt some important measures that would lower emissions, from more teleconferencing to shortening global supply chains. But the most lasting lesson may be what the coronavirus teaches us about the urgency of taking swift action.

Article written by Beth Gardiner, 16 April 2020 – Original post from Huffington Post

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La crisis del coronavirus: una oportunidad para el ecologismo en EEUU

Los grupos medioambientales de Estados Unidos no quieren desaprovechar la ventana para la lucha contra el cambio climático que se ha abierto con la crisis del coronavirus y buscan promover  un modelo económico más limpio y sostenible.

Article written by Argemino Barro, 9 April 2020 – Original post from El Ágora

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Stimulus Funds Can Transition Economies Away from Climate Wrecking Activity

The coronavirus is a deadly human tragedy, causing untold grief and pain. It is also rocking the world’s economies as people lose income and businesses struggle to stay afloat. Yet there are lessons to be learned for the climate crisis.

Article written by Ros Davidson, 3 April 2020 – Original post from Foresight Climate & Energy

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The Lessons We Choose

This will not be the last crisis. What can we learn from this one? Gray rhinos,’ in author Michele Wucker’s thinking, are dangers that are very likely to hit, and very damaging when they do. She came up with the metaphor as a counterpoint to the popular idea of a black swan, writer Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s phrase for high impact, but very unlikely, scenarios that are inherently surprising…

Article written by Beth Gardiner, 2 April 2020 – Original post from Granta

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Life in a Carbon Neutral World

Examples of crisis response that solve multiple problems with one investment; bring people together across silos, and produce novelty via emergence and improvisation.Increasing numbers of cities and countries around the globe are pledging to become net carbon neutral within the next few decades. But what will day-to-day life look like in a “net-zero” world?

Article written by Kate Ravilious, 2 April 2020 – Original post from Physics World

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Coronavirus Holds Key Lessons on How to Fight Climate Change

When the COVID-19 pandemic is past, societies may adopt some important measures that would lower emissions, from more teleconferencing to shortening global supply chains. But the most lasting lesson may be what the coronavirus teaches us about the urgency of taking swift action.

Article written by Beth Gardiner, 23 March 2020 – Original post from Yale Environment 360

WEBINARS AND KEYNOTES

Multisolving Our Way Forward: COVID-19, Health, Justice, and Climate Protection

Spring Creek Project – Oregon State University

This lecture is part of “Pandemic as Portal: Creating a Just Future on Earth,” a series hosted by the Spring Creek Project and the Environmental Arts and Humanities Initiative at Oregon State University. Dr. Sawin asks questions such as:

  1. Is the pandemic a portal to a more sustainable and equitable world?
  2. If so, what sort of portal?
  3. Given that, how might we conduct ourselves in these times?

16 February 2021

COVID-19 and Climate Change: Imagining a New Normal

Global Philanthropy Forum

With many around the world calling for change in the wake of COVID-19, what could a new normal look like if we put climate change on the forefront of national agendas? With the need to fill the gaps left by current national efforts—what solutions can the philanthropic sector offer?

13 August 2020

COVID, Climate Change, and Equity: Challenges, Connections and Opportunities for Multi-solving

British Columbia Climate and Health Network

COVID-19 Has been called the ‘great revealer,’ illuminating the ways in which the systems we have in place have not been/are not supporting equity or wellbeing. As communities and society respond to this pandemic, we are being called to address this current health crisis and a pending economic crisis, all within a climate crisis. Now, more than ever, a multi-solving lend is critical to ensure that we can create future pathways that acknowledge the interconnections between the climate, health, equity, and social and economic systems.

23 June 2020

Learning about Climate and Sustainability Risk from a Pandemic

Confluence Philanthropy 3rd Annual Advisors Forum

 The COVID-19 pandemic is playing out in a world already beset by climate change and gender, racial, and economic injustice. The pandemic seems likely to be a source of crisis during at least 2-3 years of the ten remaining to make staggering cuts in greenhouse gas emissions in order to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.. But, in the midst of these interlocking risks, there is also a narrow but not impossible path we could walk together, one where efforts to bolster the economy also protect the climate and reduce inequity.

3 June 2020

Thinking About Our Post-Pandemic World: Ensuring a Just Recovery for Contra Costa County

League of Women Voters of Diablo Valley, 350 Contra Costa and the Contra Costa County Library

The COVID-19 pandemic and related economic crisis are unfolding as our country continues to face a deepening climate emergency and extreme inequality that this moment lays bare. While we face the immediate crisis of dealing with COVID-19 in our lives and communities, we also need to be thinking of answers to questions on the longer-term challenges.

28 May 2020

Systems, Climate, and the Way Forward

Facing the Climate Crisis Series, Montpelier, Vermont

Addressing climate change and recovery from the coronavirus epidemic requires skillful action at all scales, from the local to global. With insights from models of complex adaptive systems, we will explore how small insightful actions can lead to big results driven by the power of interconnection, feedback loops, and self-organization.   How can we as Vermonters use systems thinking to direct coming Covid-19 recovery measures to address well-being, equity, and climate as well as economic recovery.

13 May 2020

Shaping and Driving Key Messaging around the Intersections of COVID and Climate Change

Kresge Climate Change Health and Equity Program – Program for Grantees

A facilitated discussion that highlights key messages that are currently in play on the intersections of COVID-19 and climate change.

April 27, 2020

Multisolving for Climate in the Context of COVID-19

Open Society Foundation – Internal Briefing

Exploring what a mutlisolving framework might look like for grant-making at the intersection of climate and equity during a time of global pandemic.

April 23, 2020

Canadian Broadcasting Radio Program

Maritime Noon Earth Day Edition, Radio Interview

On Earth Day listeners called in with thoughts and questions about the connections between covid-19 and climate change.

April 22, 2020

VIDEOS

Beth Videos

What Can Change For the Better Now?

Examples of crisis response that solve multiple problems with one investment; bring people together across silos, and produce novelty via emergence and improvisation, in a conversation with Vicki Robin.

Vicki Robin

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Multisolving Our Way Forward

This lecture is part of “Pandemic as Portal: Creating a Just Future on Earth,” a series hosted by the Spring Creek Project and the Environmental Arts and Humanities Initiative at Oregon State University. 

Spring Creek

Need a Speaker on the intersections of Climate, COVID-19, and Inequity?

Dr. Elizabeth Sawin is Co-Founder and Co-Director of Climate Interactive. Beth is an expert on solutions that address climate change while also improving health, well-being, equity, and economic vitality, and she is the originator of the term ‘multisolving’ to describe such win-win-win solutions.

Elizabeth Sawin