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The Impacts of the Early Outset of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Climate Change Research: implications for policy-making

Leal Filho, Walter and Wall, Tony and Alves, Fatima and Nagy, Gustavo J and Carril, Luis Ricardo Fernández and Li, Chunlan and Mucova, Serafino and Platje, Johannes and Rayman-Bacchus, Lez and Totin, Edmond and Ayal, Desalegn Y and Lütz, Johannes and Azeiteiro, Ulisses M and Vinuesa, Antonio Garcia and Minhas, Aprajita (2021) The Impacts of the Early Outset of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Climate Change Research: implications for policy-making. Environmental Science and Policy, 124. pp. 267-278. ISSN 1462-9011

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Abstract

Since January 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has dominated the media and exercises pressure on governments worldwide. Apart from its effects on economies, education systems and societies, the pandemic has also influenced climate change research. This paper examines the extent to which COVID-19 has influenced climate change research worldwide during the first wave at the beginning of 2020 and how it is perceived to exploit it in the future. This study utilised an international survey involving those dedicated to climate change science and management research from Academia, Government, NGOs, and international agencies in 83 countries. The analysis of responses encompasses four independent variables: Institutions, Regions, Scientific Areas, and the level of economic development represented by the Human Development Index (HDI). Results show that: (1) COVID-19 modified the way the surveyed researchers work, (2) there are indicators that COVID-19 has already influenced the direction of climate change and adaptation policy implementation, and (3) respondents perceived (explicitly concerning the COVID-19 lockdowns of March-April 2020), that the pandemic has drawn attention away from climate policy. COVID- 19 has influenced the agenda of climate change research for more than half of the respondents and is likely to continue in the future, suggesting that the impacts on their research will still be felt for many years. The paper concludes by outlining critical implications for policy-making.

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